This post is part of Kitchissippi Favourites, a series of sponsored profiles about some great local businesses. You can find them all in the November 12 issue of KT.
The Carlington Community Health Centre, in partnership with the OCDSB and the OCCSB, runs Students Will All Graduate (S.W.A.G.). It is a program intended to increase the high school graduation rate of students identified as most at risk of leaving high school before graduating without intervention.
S.W.A.G. focuses its efforts on youth from the communities of Bellevue/Caldwell, Shillington, Debra Dynes, and Parkwood Hills, where in 2002 and 2008, the failure to graduate rate was 42%.
S.W.A.G. runs after school Monday to Thursday at Fisher Park Alternative Public School, and full days six weeks over the summer. The program provides a positive space for students to engage in academic support, to participate in social recreation, to learn essential life skills, and to develop as leaders. Beyond regular programming, youth have the opportunity to participate in volunteer activities, attend sessions with career-oriented guest speakers, go on field trips, and benefit from various training initiatives.
Currently in its third year of operation, the program is for students in Grade 9 and 10 referred by their school. There are 20 spots available for each grade. Research indicates that if a student obtains all of the necessary credits in grade 9 and 10, there is a higher likelihood that they will graduate.
Youth workers provide 1:1 assistance to remove barriers to success in school and are a link between youth, school, and parents. Youth workers identify challenges facing students and parents/guardians registered with the S.W.A.G. program through ongoing communication, advocacy and programming to support student success. The youth worker also connects the youth to other resources as required and helps increase the sense of belonging to their community.
For the after-school program, emphasis is on providing a caring and supportive environment. The school board provides one teacher four nights a week and another teacher two nights a week to provide academic support.
The program is funded by a five year grant from Ontario Trillium, a three year grant from Community Foundation of Ottawa, and donations from United Way, Bon Appetit, Ottawa West Kiwanis, and other donors.
Ongoing funding is needed for transportation, snacks and scholarships.