It was through government funding that Roger Blahut was able to land his summer dream job at Brock.
While continuing his education, the Medical Sciences graduate was one of several students hired to work at the University May to August through the support of Canada Summer Jobs.
Sponsored by the Government of Canada, the program provides wage subsidies to employers to create valuable employment opportunities for full-time students between the ages of 15 and 30. Through this funding, Brock University is able to support students financially and provide them with work experience that complements their education.
Blahut (BSc ’15) worked with the Heart Strong and SeniorFit programs at the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being this past summer. Both programs cater primarily to older adults and promote health and disease prevention through exercise and activity. Heart Strong is designed specifically for individuals with cardiovascular disease or related risk factors.
He spent his summer job facilitating new member orientation, leading walking groups, working with seniors on individualized exercise plans and performing administrative tasks such as handling membership fees and preparing weekly financial statements. He also developed a balance-training course, which allowed him to lead others and showcase creative new ideas.
Blahut said his work with the Centre helped him develop transferable skills for a future career as a physiotherapist.
“I built my confidence and communication,” he said. “Working with members of the Centre taught me to be patient, understanding and direct with clients in the health-care and rehabilitation industry.”
The members not only appreciated Blahut’s expertise but also his camaraderie. Socializing is a large factor in helping improve members’ physical health. The social circles they form motivate them to return to the Centre and continue with their exercise plan.
“I sometimes joked with the members,” Blahut said. “I told them they’d develop excellent jaw muscles because of how much they talked while they were here.”
Scott Stevens, Manager for the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being, said the Centre functioned better with the help of summer students.
“There aren’t many students available to volunteer in the summer,” said Stevens. “The Canada Summer Jobs grant was imperative to the success of our programming.”
Several other Brock departments have benefited from Canada Summer Jobs, including Youth University, Co-op, Career and Experiential Education and Brock Sports.
Youth University’s Program Manager Michelle Leone hired two summer camp instructors to lead groups of children and youth in hands-on experiences and recreational activities.
“The funding we receive allows Youth University to support more children with special needs,” said Leone. “We’re able to lower instructor-to-youth ratios, adapt programming and provide access to more children.”
The Canada Summer Job program allowed Pauline Dawson, Manager, Career Education in Brock’s Office of Co-op, Career and Experiential Education, to hire a Plus Programs assistant, who helped with Brock’s Experience Plus co-curricular transcript program, and a summer career assistant, who helped students write resumés and cover letters, and enhance their job search skills.
Brock Sports used funds to hire a student to create a new program that connects student-athletes to community service opportunities. Jesse Barraza, Student-Athlete Services Co-ordinator for Brock Sports, said that without the Canada Summer Jobs funding, the Badgers Care program wouldn’t exist.
“We needed the funds to initiate the program from the bottom up,” he said. “Having a full-time summer student position was the only way we could see Badgers Care coming to life.”
The deadline to apply for Canada Summer Jobs funding is quickly approaching. Brock University departments are encouraged to apply through a new centralized, internal process that will help applications receive the best consideration for funding. Interested parties are asked to submit their application to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, Jan. 22.
The offices of Government and Community Relations and Talent Acquisition will review the applications to ensure they align with the criteria set out by Canada Summer Jobs and will provide feedback to applicants if needed.
All applications will be centrally submitted to the Canada Summer Jobs program in advance of the program deadline of Feb. 2. As in previous years, individual units will hear back directly from the Government of Canada in April on the status of their applications.
Members of the Brock community are invited to attend a Canada Summer Jobs information session organized by the office of Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey on Friday, Jan. 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Welland City Hall Community Room.
For more information on Canada Summer Jobs, visit the Government of Canada’s website.