REACH Edmonton

The fourth annual Out of School Time (OST) Conference gathered nearly 100 frontline staff for programs that work with youth for a day of professional development June 13.

The conference offers quality training to frontline staff who work with immigrant, refugee and Aboriginal youth and wouldn’t normally have access to professional development opportunities.

This training is a priority because quality programming for youth in the critical after-school hours, as well as the summer months, can give youth stronger resiliency skills and a better chance of success in life.

“We are all a part of the OST Conference Collaborative because we know this is important work,” said Jenika Watson, a long-serving member of the planning committee and supervisor at Edmonton Immigrant Services Association (EISA). “I’m proud to work with the team to bring meaningful, quality tools and training to these workers and every year we are getting better at it.”

The annual Conference aims to achieve the OST Collaborative’s goal of working together to enhance program quality. The collaborative does this through development and monitoring of standards, sharing best practices, resources, and emerging models to serve groups more effectively, while strengthening the capacity of staff and volunteers.

Attendees have agreed that the training offers practical skills they can take back to their workplaces.

This year, 75 percent of those who completed evaluations said the training would be useful in their daily work.

“There were practical and theoretical sessions to choose from, and most were hand-on so that participants were able to see themselves using the tools in their summer programs,” said Watson. “I’m confident they gathered some tools and ideas for how to engage kids effectively.”

The OST Collaborative is a partnership between the Africa Centre, Boys and Girls Club Big Brothers Big Sisters Edmonton, the City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Public School Board, the Edmonton Catholic School District, REACH Edmonton, the United Way and a number of different community groups and agencies.