At the age of 19, Daniel, a former youth in care, was struggling to find stability. Having recently transitioned to a group home, he was dependent on the government’s extended care and maintenance funding to make ends meet, all while wondering: what am I going to do to survive? Despite having a positive experience in care, which he entered at age four due to abuse at home, the transition to independent living was challenging.
Fortunately, Daniel’s worker recommended B.O.L.T.’s Day of Discovery, an event co-hosted by George Brown College and Tridel. “The Day of Discovery was [focused on] job shadowing, walking around, and asking foreman on construction sites questions about what they do,” says Daniel, who later attended Hammer Heads, a 14-week program supported by the Central Ontario Building Trades and designed to focus on specific interests while preparing under-resourced youth for apprenticeships.
“I was 19 and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I got into Hammer Heads, did three months, then volunteered and got into an apprenticeship for four years. I’ve been working in the trades ever since.” – Daniel, funding recipient
“For under-resourced young people who have interest in the trades, there are lots of opportunities,” says Joanne Bin, executive director of B.O.L.T. – otherwise known as Building Opportunities for Life Today, a charitable foundation established by Tridel and supporters of Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada. “The programs teach youth life skills and create a real construction environment for them,” says Bin, adding that at the end of Hammer Heads, youth are often fast-tracked into apprenticeships. This can be extremely beneficial for young people from care, as many often lack the networks and connections utilized by their peers.
For many youth in child welfare, working in the trades can offer a stable source of income after achieving their high school diplomas. “Most trades require grade 12, and some require specific courses – like, plumbing requires chemistry and electrical requires physics,” says Bin. Through these programs, they also also have a chance to decide if the trades industry is a good fit for them.
Thanks to B.O.L.T., which was originally launched to support youth associated with the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, Daniel is now an ironworker, and encourages other young people from child welfare to pursue the Day of Discovery and Hammer Heads. “It’s important for youth to know that there are jobs out there waiting for them,” he says. “They need to have the drive and dedication to do something for themselves. My job is secure, and I’ve really worked for that.”