Young moms graduate from 'life-changing' career exploration program in Winnipeg
6 women graduate from 'M' Program at ceremony Tuesday in Winnipeg
A Winnipeg-based program for young moms is empowering them to get on the path toward a brighter career and future.
"I found it life-changing," said Cheyenne Fontaine, 20, who graduated from the program Tuesday evening at a ceremony at the University of Winnipeg.
"A lot of people think that once you have a child at a younger age, your life is over, but it's actually not. They show you here that it's never too late to start."
The program, put on by the non-profit organization Career Trek, is designed for mothers between the ages 14-21 to help them develop a career choice through educational experiences, hands-on career skills training and counselling.
"They help you not just academically, but they actually help your family and yourself too. They're actually there for you on a personal level as well," said Fontaine.
'Big road map' of career options
The classes rotated through the University of Winnipeg, the University of Manitoba, the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, Red River College and other campuses in Winnipeg to give participants a wide breadth of experience.
They met post-secondary students at each campus and learned about 45 different occupations ranging from nursing, social work and medicine to engineering, journalism and production art.
"They make a big road map of everything; they make it a lot easier for you to want to find your career," said Fontaine.
Career Trek CEO Darrell Cole said the 'M' Program aims to help not only the mother, but also help her future generations.
Demand for the program is high, so Career Trek takes in a maximum of 15 participants a year. Those who do get in face an intense schedule for two nights a week over 20 weeks, Cole added.
"They've been in school all day, they come to this program, they're here all night, then they have to go home -- they still have homework to do," he said.
"You see the conviction of 20 weeks of young women with their children to do this."
Support for families
The program supports the participants by providing child care, meals and safe bus transportation for them and their families.
"They can do the same things that lots of parents do," said 'M' Program manager Erica Hoiss.
"We want these young women to be aware of what their options are and to be aware that with hard work, they can do whatever they want to."
Fontaine said her goal is to be a doctor — something she never thought was possible before she enrolled in the 'M' Program. She plans to begin her studies at the University of Manitoba this fall.
She brought a message to other young mothers at Tuesday's graduation ceremony.
"Find out what you want, get some upgrading, take a class," she said. "Not only do you need to provide for your children but you need to take care of yourself, too."
With files from Erin Brohman