It’s easy to see why kids admire Myka Glada: she has an incredible sense of humour, is a natural artist, and knows how to tell a good story.
Myka already had these qualities when she started her position working with children at the Kids Club after-school program in Faro, Yukon. But when she completed her work term, she walked away with new skills that she learned on the job – including a greater sense of responsibility, a passion for working with children, and how to prepare for a job interview.
“Having this opportunity meant gaining more confidence,” says Myka, adding that the role immediately appealed to her when she first saw it. “I wanted a job, but one that involved kids because I really like kids. I thought it was going to be a good job for me.”
Her position with the Faro community’s Kids Club was funded by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association’s Youth Employment Experience program. This program, funded by the Government of Canada, is designed to help parks and recreation organizations build capacity, while creating employment and skills building opportunities for youth in the sector.
As part of her job, Myka would help bring children from their school to the town’s community centre, which is located next to the school. Working alongside recreation staff, she often played games with the children and helped with crafts and cultural activities.
“We’d all go to the gym and start playing activities, like tag or hide-and-seek. After the activities we’d go and have a snack, and then do some more activities,” she says, adding that the experience taught her patience and how to work with children.
“I learned that kids are handful,” she laughs.
Denis Bento, the general manager of recreation and culture for the Town of Faro, says Myka was also given the opportunity to work with a mentor in the town’s recreation department.
“The mentor was responsible for giving her directions, and making sure she was getting everything she needed from the program,” he says, adding that Myka also learned on-the-job skills from two other employees. “The goal was to ensure Myka had an opportunity to learn from many employees and also expand her network.”
Bento says that the funding made a huge difference to the small Yukon town – which is located 359km from Whitehorse and has a population of roughly 500.
It meant that the community could add more resources to provide after-school recreational programming to children in the area, he says.
“We always strive to provide new activities to the community,” Denis explains. “We have the energy and the motivation, however one of the things we’re always looking for are resources. With the help of the CPRA Youth Employment Experience, we could hire an employee to help us run the Kids Club program.”
He also says Myka brought enthusiasm and leadership to the role, and children in the program had the chance to learn a lot from the teenager.
“Sometimes when the kids leave school for the after-school program, they’re tired and don’t have the energy. But with Myka, they were happy,” Denis says, adding that Myka led great activities for the kids such as teaching them how to draw. “It was really nice seeing the kids learn new skills and learning new things. It was fantastic.”
Kara Went, Myka’s guardian, says it was wonderful to see the impact that the job made on Myka – and adds that the experience helped her prepare for the future.
“She’s going to be an adult in a few more years, and it made us very happy to know that one day she’s going to go out into the workforce and she’s going to do just fine,” Kara says.