Friday, 30 September 2011

So what are your inner gifts?

Take ten minutes out of your day to think about unique gifts and talents that lie within you.

Jot down what you bring to the table of life. Write as many examples as you can think of. Then. Really think about these wonderful qualities that once developed, will have the ability to move mountains and change your world. Then consider: you spent time identifying all of the positive qualities you possess and probably came up with many, but you have barely scratched the surface of the infinite and dynamic you! Each time you do this exercise you will discover new things that you contribute to this world.

" when you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then , for that is just the place that the tide will turn "
Harriet Beecher Stowe Socializing the Tech-Generation

Friday, 23 September 2011

Making a gap year affordable

As with most things, taking a gap year often get put aside due to financial limitations.  The cost of traveling, participating in programs and taking courses can add up quickly but your gap year doesn’t necessarily have to cost you more than a brand new car!  Here are a few tips to make your gap year a possibility:
  1. Save up!  Start saving your money now.  You never want to miss out on an opportunity that might change the course of your life because you bought yourself a latte every day for the past 4 years.  A little will go a long way - some banks will “round up” each of your purchases and put the extra in a savings account for you, put all of your change into a jar and roll it once every couple of months and put that towards your gap year fund or collect liquor bottles or printer cartridges that you can exchange for cash.
  2. Ask others!  Why not forgo the ugly sweater from Aunt Francis and ask for her to add to your gap year fun instead.  If all of your relatives combine your birthday and holiday gift money, you could be well on your way to celebrating with a gap year.
  3. Plan to work!  Your gap year doesn’t have to be all travel or course work - try to plan in some work terms into your year.  You can find jobs that will help you achieve your goals AND bring in some money to fund your other adventures.
  4. Host a fundraiser.  There are plenty of fundraising organizations out there that could help you to raise money for your gap year.  Why not sell chocolates or wrapping paper?  Why not host a barbeque to raise money?  Every little bit helps and showing initiative will help you develop your leadership skills, financial skills and show others just how much this gap year means to you.
  5. Look for free or low-cost alternatives.  Want to work with dolphins?  Going to Cozumel to do so might be out of your price range but maybe the local aquarium would take you on as a volunteer - this would cut down on the cost of airfare and hotels and give you a similar experience.  Look for local experiences or experiences that are funded through the government, private organizations or local community groups.

If you want to live like a rock star for a year - win the lottery.  If you want to develop your sense of self, become more independent and grow to meet your potential - save up, consider local opportunities, and turn to others for financial support.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Youth Engagement - Not Rocket Science

In March of 2009, the Canadian Heritage, Citizen Participation Branch in partnership with the Atlantic Evaluation Group, Inc. published a report entitled “Youth Participation in Arts, Heritage, Culture and Community” that explored the topic of engaging youth in our communities.  They talked with community organizations that work with youth as well as to the youth directly for their study.

The findings are not extreme, nor are they surprising but they shine a bright light onto the values of our youth.  Here are a few of the ideas that stood out for me while reading the article:
  1. Youth want to have positive relationships with adults, they seek to be treated with respect and to be heard.
  2. They want to be engaged as a whole person - in their feeling of belonging, in acknowledging their contributions and by providing them with opportunities to contribute to society.
  3. Young people feel that they do not know how to become involved in their communities - they need the encouragement of their mentors, teachers, parents or older youth to present them with opportunities to get involved.
  4. Youth want to be involved in all stages of projects - from planning, through implimentation and then be kept in the loop with the after-effects of their contributions.  A thank you note or an honorarium are also appreciated!
  5. “FACEBOOK DOES NOT REPLACE FACE-TO-FACE” (Fuller, 2009, pg, 16, emphasis added).  Youth still value interacting with each other in person - the internet is for communicating but does not override getting together.

How can you engage the youth in your community? How can you remove barriers to their involvement?   How can you help them find their voice and contribute in a meaningful way?

Read the full article here: 

Friday, 9 September 2011

What If...?

When we were children, we daydreamed all the time. The older we got, the less time we had to imagine things other than what we had to deal with in our daily lives.

Today, it's time to let your imagination run wild. Create a list with the top 10 things you want to do , see or experience in your life. Dream big, dream small, it's up to you.

If there were no limitations placed on yourself and your life , what would you do?

Start with 10 and by all means, keep going. This is a good way to begin to develop a clear perception of the potential of the world around you. And, years from now It will be fun to go back and see that you indeed did do many of the things you could only once imagine.

Perhaps one of those dreams was to take a gap year, maybe after high school or university. What would be your top three places to visit or top three cool things to do? What if you had the time to take a gap year? Would you? We can help those dreams come true.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Pigeonholing - A reason for a Gap Year

Once a jock, always a jock.  Once a nerd, always a nerd.  Once a shy guy, always a shy guy.  Once a ditz, always a ditz.  Ever feel like your are stuck in a rut, limited in what you can do, being held there by your peer’s perception of who you are?

We all know that standing up to peer pressure is hard.  What is even harder is realizing that you are not really what people perceive you as.  As you experience new things, you discover so much more about yourselves and who you truly are at your core.  If you discover your core is different from how you are perceived based on your past, how can you become your true self?

Being true to yourself at your core requires a deep understanding of who you are and the confidence to go against the grain and redefine your true self. 

A gap year provides a great time to step away from the external pressures placed on you by your peers, your family and your community to be who you always have been and to explore and understand who you have grown to be.  Through challenging yourself in new situations, you can present as your authentic self, learn about your true self and gain confidence in who you are.

These experiences can help you to return back to your communities, families and peers with a greater understanding of who you want to be and not what your past has defined you as.  This deeper understanding will give you the confidence to break out of that pigeonhole and show the world the true you!