Nathanel Rookwood aspires to be an award-winning photographer. Recapturing the last few months of his life would certainly make an interesting modern visual art story. The 20-year-old Sir Robert Borden Business & Technical Institute graduate considers it a miracle that he was able to successfully complete the federally-funded Shouters career club employment program.
Born with sickle cell anemia, Rockwood is subjected to the sometimes unbearable bone pain that forces students to miss significant classroom time because of frequent hospitalizations.
“It gets bad when the weather is cold, but I managed to brace myself and get through the program,” said Rookwood who spent the last 18 weeks working at Global Textile Exporters Canada Ltd. in Scarborough. “I was very motivated to want to do well on this work assignment and I think that’s what carried me through.”
He was one of 14 graduates of the program offered by the Shouters National Evangelical Spiritual Baptist Faith (NESBF) Canada and its founding president Archbishop Dr. Delores Seivright.
“There are many young people out there who just need a helping hand while there are others looking for a second chance after having made a mistake that brought them into contact with the criminal justice system,” said Seivright. “This was their opportunity to go out into the workplace and prove that they want to be employed and be contributing members of society. All of the participants – with the exception of one who fell back through the cracks – finished the program and the majority received high commendations from the employers they were matched with.”
The program participants spent five hours a week in employment workshops when they were not on the job. Employers retained most of the graduates.
Shauna-Kay Norris is extremely grateful that she was exposed to the program. The 20-year old mother came to Canada from Jamaica eight months ago without any marketable skills, having not completed high school.
“I am so happy I found this because I have learned so much,” said the aspiring health care worker. “It’s a start for me and I want to build on this and move on to become more qualified.”
Seivright says Norris represents the perfect example of why there is a need for such programs.
“Who was going to give her a job with what she came to Canada with?” Seivright asked. “She now has some job training and work experience which will certainly give her hope. I am so happy for her and the other graduates. They applied themselves and worked extremely hard. It gives me so much joy to see them receive their certificates for a job well done.”
The other graduates were Amanda Lomas, Ariana Krasniqi, Ashley Wilson, Claudine King, Darryl Williams, Davier Walcott, Debbieriane Brown-Rennis, Dexter Calleja, Jose Guzman, Khadim Foster, Leonardo Navarro and Orville Irons.
The NESBF also runs an entrepreneur skill development program aimed at young people between the ages of 17 and 24. The program is designed for the less-advantaged already committed to creating their own business.