Right Direction Online

August 1, 2014

Keri-Lynn Readhead

With a little bit of help from The Winnipeg Foundation, Keri-Lynn Readhead realized she has the power to shape her future education and overcome challenges to achieve her goals.

Keri-Lynn is one of 12 participants of Career Trek’s ‘M’ Program, a program designed to help young mothers overcome barriers and get them back on the path to education and career success.

Keri-Lynn, mother to one-and-a-half year-old Allan, is a 22 year-old ‘M’ Program graduate with onyx hair and a bright contagious smile.

“’M’ Program really helped me realize quite a few things,” says Keri-Lynn. “First of all, it’s not impossible. You can do it!”

Keri-Lynn didn’t always have this level of infectious optimism toward education however. She struggled with school and her attendance.

According to Misty Belcourt, ‘M’ Program Manager, young mothers have a host of challenges they have to overcome in order to be successful on their education and career paths, the need for safe transportation, childcare, and good nutrition are just a few.

One of the most pressing challenges facing ‘M’ Program participants is finding the time to eat properly and feed their children healthy meals. When they go to school full-time and attend ‘M’ Program two nights a week, proper nutrition for a young family can be difficult.

Thanks to the ‘Nourishing Potential’ grant from the Winnipeg Foundation, The ‘M’ Program is able to help address nutrition with participants by providing them and their children with healthy meals during programming, ensuring an advantageous learning environment.

The impact of poor nutrition is well documented. According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, when students do not eat a healthy diet they may miss out on important nutrients needed to support optimal cognitive functioning.

“I liked the food!” says Keri-Lynn. “I don’t care what anyone says! That food was okay!”

Along with addressing the challenge of nutrition and learning, The ‘M’ Program is committed to helping participants overcome barriers surrounding education and employment.

Before The ‘M’ Program, Keri-Lynn admits it was difficult to make school a priority.

“I’ve realized that I’ve been slacking in some things, like with my attendance,” Says Keri-Lynn.

The ‘M’ Program has helped her to realize many things about herself and what she really wants, including the understanding that post-secondary education will play an important role in helping her provide for Allan.

“It’s made me believe in myself more. I can do it. That extra confidence in myself,” says Keri-Lynn. “That is the biggest thing that I have taken from the program.”

Keri-Lynn sees this experience as a positive chain reaction, and says that her goal of becoming a nurse is well under way as she has learned how to self-assess and push herself to achieve her goals.

Between her active schedule with her son Allan and her education plans, Keri-Lynn is working on filling out post-secondary applications and waiting on a letter of acceptance.

Her tremendous accomplishments are something to be proud of. Her continued success, both as a mother and as a mentor in her community, are things we continue to look forward to seeing in her future.

May 30, 2014

Sasha Mark

Career Trek alumnus and junior staffer wins competition

Sasha Mark recently won first prize in a playwriting competition that put his written words centre stage.

As one of five finalists in the 12th annual Scirocco Drama Manitoba High School Playwriting Competition, the 18-year-old junior staff member earned the unique opportunity to have his play, Cheryl, shown in front of an audience at the Tom Hendry Warehouse Theatre.

The plot came to life with help from acting students from the University of Winnipeg’s department of theatre and film.

“It was weird to finally see it put on a stage,” Sasha says. “It’s both unbelievable and weird.”

His dark comedy received the most votes by the audience, earning him the $200 first-place prize: the Cora McKenzie Award, named in memory of a former winner.

Cheryl is the protagonist in his film-noir-style play about love and betrayal. Sasha describes her as an obsessive person who feels her emotions deeply and acts without thinking things through.

“Cheryl meets somebody, falls in love really quickly, gets married and things don’t go the way she plans. Then she tries to take things in her own hands,” he says.

Career Trek founder Darrell Cole and members of the management team attended the performance, offering their support to the long-time trekker. Sasha first got involved with Career Trek as a participant in the Phase I program and has spent three years as a junior staff member.

A recent grad of Gordon Bell High School, he credits Career Trek with helping him figure out that he wants to be a teacher, most likely in English Language Arts given his love of writing. What appeals to him most about a career in education is the opportunity it brings to help students discover their true interests.

“To help them find the path they want to do, rather than what people are telling them to do,” Sasha explains.

His dad, Alex Mark, a diesel mechanic, says he is grateful to Career Trek for introducing his son to so many potential career options and for well-equipping him to find his own way.

“It gave him things that I couldn’t,” says Alex, who got a kick out of watching his son’s script performed at a professional venue.

“(That play) was very deep and well thought out. Also somewhat dark but also some humour. It is very layered.”

It’s not every day that a teenager gets the chance to share his talent in such a big way, and to come home with the top prize made for one pretty proud dad.

“Oh, heck yeah,” Alex says.