Both recent participants of the STAR program Emily Skerry and Aiden Bridges would highly recommend the seven week course to others.
“I think it was a really good thing to be a part of just because we got to learn a lot of different things. We got to go to different places, explore the Island a little bit,” said Mr Bridges. “We even got to checkout the Holland Colleges across the Island and UPEI. It was just a wholesome experience.”
STAR stands for Start to Apply Right. The program is for teens aged 15-17 to help them prepare for their financial future. The program promotes financial literacy, money management and teaches important life skills. It also focuses on promoting the Canada Learning Bond (CLB), a government run program that offers up to $2,000 for a child’s post-secondary education. The program also includes field trips, volunteer opportunities within the community and job shadowing. Students were also paid for being part of the program.
Ms Skerry said the program helped her to better recognize what her own skills were.
“I knew before, but now I know that I excel at leadership and other things like that and just learning what I’m good at,” she said. “I think a lot of that came out with this program.”
Coordinator Julia Ross said her expectations for the program was to give the nine participants taking the course an experience that they would remember in the years to come.
“They may not see the immediate benefits, but someday they will look back on this where they were able to get paid to have some fun and to learn about themselves and other people and to gain some skills that will help them in the workforce,” she said.
Ms Ross said over the seven weeks she seen a lot growth amongst the nine students.
“Even if they don’t see it, I saw it,” she said. “Just with communication skills, social skills, intelligent skills, they have definitely grown. The ability to look at other people in the group and to kind of empathize with them, which was definitely something that was lacking at the first, but has been developed as they got to learn more about each other and to realize that people go through a lot of different experiences also.”
The nine participants in the STAR Program got to share that growth they’ve experienced over the summer during a Celebration Day event at the West Prince Holland College Campus on Aug. 19.
The celebration included light refreshments, a slideshow, a presentation on the CLB and finance trivia.
Group leader Colton Chaisson, a business student at UPEI, was tasked with teaching the participants about financial literacy.
“A lot of them don’t even have a bank account, so a lot of it was new to them,” he said.
Mr Chaisson taught them about loans, mortgages, interest rates and more.
“General things they don’t teach in school that they need to know about,” he said.
Both Ms Skerry and Mr Bridges appreciated the financial literacy aspect of the program.
“I didn’t really know the differences, like things to do with interest and savings and checking,” said Ms Skerry. “I knew vaguely, but now I feel like I have a little more experience, where maybe I could tell other people about it.”
Ms Ross said she believes the students learned a lot about themselves this summer as well as learning life and financial skills.
“And hopefully how to be good people too,” she concluded.