Facilitator Training Program

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With funding from Alberta Human Services’ Aboriginal Development Branch in 2013-2014, Life Skills Journey piloted a training program for young adults (18-30 years old) from Buffalo Lake and Kikino Métis Settlements to help them develop skills to lead the Life Skills Journey summer day camps. Since the pilot year, Life Skills Journey has had 16 facilitators and community staff members from four Settlements and 6 University of Alberta student facilitators participate in the program.

Facilitators take part in an intensive training program that helps to build leaders and mentors for younger generations. Using a strength-based approach, these young adults learn program content while gaining leadership experience and child behaviour management skills. The program uses an interdisciplinary approach that is community-based and also incorporates indigenous traditions that honour local heritage and history. Team building activities during training help develop rapport between community members and University of Alberta students before the start of camp. After undergoing training, community members and University of Alberta students work together as peer mentors in delivering  Life Skills Journey summer camps to children and youth of both age groups (7-10 and 11-14).

 

How do we measure impact on facilitators?

Life Skills Journey measures the impact of the program training and camp experience on facilitators using questionnaires and focus groups. Facilitators complete questionnaires at the start and end of employment to help measure their development, leadership, and life skills learned. The surveys use the Adult Resiliency Framework created by Resiliency Initiatives. Focus groups are also used to learn more about facilitator’s experience at camp, areas to improve, and how they have been impacted directly by their time with the campers. The program measures impact to help improve training processes, the delivery of the program, and to learn from the past; all of these reflections can lead to bigger ripples.

 

How do we measure impact on the research team?

Research in and with communities can be some of the most enriching work an academic can do. Developing the Life Skills Journey program and studying its impacts provides the team with opportunities to learn and to present their work and share it with other communities and academics. By involving university students in the research process, from program development to evaluating impacts, we influence a new generation of community-minded researchers. Full-time community staff see program benefits in action because they are a part of the change in their own communities. Not only are they gaining community-based research skills and practices, but they are the critical link between the researchers and the community, creating a well informed program and process. We measure impact on the researchers using  focus groups, informal weekly debriefs, and interviews. This allows us to show change in our practice and also in our ability to share this information. The impact on the researchers is seeing how this program creates real change within the community and sharing that information with others.