A Place 2 Belong

The Cause

OUR GOAL: “To provide a place, the time and space, for youth to discover through experimentation and direct experience.”
• To increase a sense of belonging;
• To decrease barriers to employment;
• To increase soft skill development for employability.

The Idea: To offer youth a place to come together and learn by doing. The Dare 2 Dream Horse Rescue facility proposes a pilot project as an opportunity for youth that aims to create a place for youth to belong, to work and to learn. The Dare 2 Dream Horse Rescue provides basic needs to their horses, gives them a second chance and offers them a herd to belong.

The Project: This is an invitation to youth ages 10 + and as said best by the owner/operator, “Our goal is not only to save horses from slaughter, but also to create a place where youth can be proud of their accomplishments and build self-esteem.” This project aims to facilitate a place and process for youth to participate in the Green Certificate Program. This certificate represents an agricultural training program through an apprentice style delivery. The certificate program allows our young people an approved complimentary program of study to all Alberta High Schools. The Green Certificate means, “learning, hands-on, out in the barn, field or corral and getting dirty. It also means having a trainer who is knowledgeable and interested in the trainee’s success.” Participants learn through actively performing the skills required.

Last but certainly not least, the other aspect of this project is aimed towards the human need of belonging. The Dare 2 Dream facility wants to open its space to offer that place of belonging and “provide the time and space to experiment,” as this has been called upon to our community from the Government of Alberta.

The approach is grounded in safety and surrounding connections; it aims to inspire and influence through partnerships. There are opportunities to increase skills through training and development and support the participants' wellbeing. There are caring and compassionate relationships and participation in accredited outdoor education. The experiential learning occurs, “outside of the normal classroom,” and within a natural setting. The formalized structure of the classroom will not be present, yet the youth will transfer their learning while increasing their educational and employability potential.

Who Will it Benefit?

The youth: this project is a means to reduce barriers to education and increase employability for our youth. Youth that connect with the Dare 2 Dream facility but are not active participants of the Green Certificate are invited to volunteer and are welcome to stay, play and learn. For these youth, the attention will be placed on one-on-one training opportunities between youth and their chosen or assigned horse. The Dare 2 Dream facility has particular interest in a cause for support to children/youth who have been victims of abuse. In these cases, referrals are open and can come from any of the community professionals and/or systems, parents, or self-referrals (depending on age). The proposed support in this case will not be considered or categorized as therapy in its nature, though it can certainly prove to be “therapeutic” for individuals. These children will have a purpose in taking care of "their horse", learning their role and responsibilities within the environment and play an active role in the preparation of the horse and fostering to a good home when ready. No matter the youth’s involvement, all youth inclusively will have access to free career development services while participants of the program through a Certified Career Development Practitioner as acknowledged through the Alberta Government occupational profiles with the designation approved through the Alberta Career Development Association of Alberta. The education, employment and wellbeing of our youth are key areas of concern and a cause for support between both the facility and its representative.

The Economy & Marketplace: Upon research of the Alberta short-term employment forecast for 2016 – 2018, agriculture and livestock workers are mentioned as high demand occupations. As well, general farmworkers are categorized within the moderately high demand occupations with veterinarians listed within the medium demand occupations and animal health technologists and vet technicians as low demand occupations (www.work.alberta.ca). Though any of these forecasts could certainly change, a primary concentration is placed on the career development (longer-term) for youth. This project offers youth a range of both employability and soft skills' development which benefits our labour market and its business/businesses. It not only has impact on the potential livelihoods and earning of our youth, but it is crucial to a longer term outlook and an element of a workforce development plan.