© Brian McInnis - The Guardian
The Community Foundation of Prince Edward Island officially launched its 2013 Vital Signs report during an event in Charlottetown Wednesday. From left sitting are Emily Brown, youth panelist and Alex MacDonald, youth panelist. Standing are from left Jason Hogan, youth panelist; Katharine MacDonald, project researcher and Steve macQuaid, director on the board of Comunity Foundation of P.E.I.
Community Foundation releases survey of Islanders age 15 to 29
A panel of three youth led discussion Wednesday on what it’s like living as a young person on P.E.I., especially the limitations of the school system.
Alex MacDonald, a Colonel Gray student was on the panel representing youth age 15 to 19.
She said she was happy to get employment this past summer at a coffee shop, but many of her friends could not find work.
“Now almost none of them are employed because they find school far too stressful to even think about getting a job on weekends,” said MacDonald.
“There is a lot of emphasis on us being the generation to fix all the problems so it’s very stressful sometimes.”
She said that youth are of the opinion that the school system is not preparing them for life, a finding repeated in the Vital Signs research.
“As far as schooling goes (after grade 12) the majority of my friends are planning on leaving and perhaps not coming back to P.E.I.,” said MacDonald.
That didn’t happen to panelist Emily Brown who told of her experience completing university education off-Island, returning to P.E.I. for the next phase of her life, a working adult. She was representing youth age 25 to 29.
“In the student bubble, there is a lot of opportunities catering to you,” she said. “You get student discounts on Tuesdays at the grocery store, you get to pay the student rate at the local gym.”
Now with student debt, she no longer qualifies for student rates.
“While I was the most broke I had ever been in my life, coming back for work, it was the most important time for me to be joining and trying to meet people and participate and become part of the community. It was difficult because of financial things.”
She said young people are not getting information about programs and efforts to help them move through life stages and integrate into community.
“All of a sudden I was an adult with a big spectrum of people that you had to talk to or didn’t know how to talk to,” said Brown.
“It is important to make sure young people know what’s available for them, ensuring that two-way conversation, that network, making sure they are becoming part of that deeper community, not being in a bubble that is just young people all the time.”
Jason Hogan represented the age group between 20 and 24.
He has just completed an education degree that came after his science degree.
He also thinks communication with youth is a priority, concerning programs of interest to them.
“Another thing, there is a lot of expectations for students coming out of high school, where we want them to be prepared for life,” said Hogan. “We want them to do well on every standardized test that has ever existed, regardless of the value of standardized tests. We want them to have an understanding of citizenship. We want them to be productive members of society. We want them to have a cultural identity and that is a lot to fit into a six hour (school) day.
“A lot of educators need our support in that,” said Hogan.