Youth rights program to focus on advocacy

by | Dec 6, 2013 | News

Earl Abalajon
Early Childhood Reporter

Humber College will launch a new continuing education certificate in youth rights education starting January at the Lakeshore campus.

The three-module certificate program will focus on child’s rights in Canada, the resources available to youth in Ontario’s care system, and developing advocacy skills.

According to Kim Pavan, director of continuing education for Humber, each module consists of three sessions scheduled for two Saturday evening classes and a Wednesday evening. The program costs $300 to obtain the full certificate during one semester.

Pavan said the main goal for the students in this program is to “produce a type of educational tool that would help children and youth learn about their rights.”

After the second module, students take a one-month break to practice what they’ve been working on in class in their own workplaces or other practical settings.

“The project that they finish with in the end is some resource or tool that they are going to design to teach an aspect of youth rights,” said Heather Snell, program coordinator for the child and youth work program. “It’s helping young people understand ‘what are my rights?’ and what’s the difference between ‘I just really want that’ and ‘what my right is.’”

The program involves a collaboration with the Provincial Advocacy Office and the Ontario Association of Child and Youth Counselors, and it encourages recent child and youth work graduates, or anyone with a child and youth work background to develop new tools and programs to educate children about their rights.

Pavan said students range from social workers currently employed in the field, child case workers, instructors and teachers working with children.

“It’s for someone who’s emerging in the field, and is looking to refine that skillset.”

According to Snell, the first module is about the rights in legislation, including an introduction to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, which indicates the rights children should be afforded.  Canada agreed officially to the convention in 1991.

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been in Canada for a bit over 20 years now, and the general public doesn’t know too much about it,” said Sammy D’Agostino, 25, a final year child and youth work student who started the Child’s Rights United Club at Lakeshore to promote advocacy.

The program was originally slated to begin in October this past semester, but due to low enrollment numbers the program was moved to the 2014 winter semester.  Pavan said about 50 students have expressed their interest in the program.