September 2015 signalled the start of a partnership between the Navigator and the NDSS Skills for Life program. Coordinated and executed with the help of Skills for Life program educational assistants (EA) Johanne Aubut and Cathy Murphy, the partnership has provided sought after work experience for nine Skills for Life students.
Outfitted with blue and white “Navigators” hats provided by the Nav, the nine students set out every second Friday of the month to deliver newspapers to businesses in downtown Nanaimo, the waterfront, Bowen area, and at NDSS itself. After the initial hurdle of approaching businesses about the venture, both students and helpers found their rhythm.
“When we started, all the stores said yes [to us delivering to their business]. The second time, they were waiting for us,” says Aubut. “They were very welcoming.”
Always looking for work experience, delivering newspapers for the Navigator provided the students with much more says Aubut.
“Every time the students delivered, it helped them develop their life skills, like street awareness, social skills, finding addresses, practicing counting newspapers, making sure they were discreet and quiet in stores,” says Aubut. “They learned to be professional.”
Throughout the year, Cathy Murphy also saw a growth in her students.
“Our students learned, grew, and received a real feeling of accomplishment that otherwise they may never have gotten,” she says.
“At the beginning, the students weren’t sure how to go about it,” adds Aubut. “As we delivered more and more they grew in confidence; at the end, we didn’t have to go in [the businesses] with them—they were independent. This is proof that they can learn and can contribute to the community.”
Nearing the end, the partnership is bittersweet to Aubut.
“I was handing out newspapers with Dylan [my Skills for Life student], and we were at Modern Café. We got there and the owner was out arranging chairs. He turned to greet us and he hugged me, thanking us, saying how good this was for the students, the university, and the community. It was a great initiative. And it hasn’t been just him; on the bus, people smile at us and tell us how great this is that were doing this.”
With the end of the university semester, the students will get a well-deserved break for their hard work during the last eight months.
“Even when they were tired, they still did it, and persevered,” says Aubut. “We had so much fun doing this.”
With Murphy possibly leaving at the start of the next academic year, it may be a struggle to find coodinators to help continue this partnership. Regardless, the Nav wishes to extend their thanks for the help the NDSS Skills for Life program and their coordinators in aiding our newspaper distribution.