Some opportunities aren’t obvious. For some young people, graduating high school and going on to post secondary seems logical, however for countless others living in our community, it might be an opportunity they’ve never even considered. That’s where Western University Students’ Council’s (USC) Early Outreach program, or REACH, comes into the picture.
REACH is a three-day, overnight conference driven by the USC with a complement of over 70 volunteers. The program, funded in part by United Way’s Canada Life Youth United grant, connects young people in London and Middlesex County with post-secondary options and the tools and knowledge to attain them.
“For many young people, post-secondary education seems like an unattainable dream,” says Majd Radhaa, Early Outreach Coordinator, Western University Students’ Council. “REACH takes those expectations and turns them upside down.”
But REACH is more than just prep for young people thinking about university or college. Over the course of its three-day curriculum, students sit in on lectures at Western, go on a road trip to Fanshawe College for a look at college life, and take part in a life-size Game of Life. The impact on the young people is obvious, says Radhaa. Their confidence grows, they set goals, learn about scholarships, bursaries, and other supports, and most importantly, come to realize that post-secondary pursuits are attainable.
The experience is something many of the youth describe as eye opening.
Youth delegates are grouped with two Western student mentors, called Leadership Developers, for the course of their experience. The Leadership Developer’s role is to provide guidance, mentorship, and help the young person build confidence and explore their options and interests. And it’s not uncommon for a Leadership Developer to have been a youth delegate themself. The experience is memorable, and for many, life changing.