Engaging Young Adults to Help Kids Shine

Kylie Huberman

Kylie Huberman

By Kylie Huberman, A Chance to Shine Young Adults Committee Chair

I first came into contact with Ometz through Concordia University. I was a student studying Human Relations as my major and Human Rights as my minor. In order to graduate, I had to partake in a fieldwork practice experience. In my final year of school, an Ometz employee came into my classroom to talk about the organization. Specifically, she was recruiting someone to come in and implement their fieldwork practice at the Ometz Jr MYP program. The JR MYP afterschool program engages children to succeed by providing them academic and social support. The children are supported by volunteers, who act as mentors over the course of the year. I knew that my partner and I would not only benefit from this because it was within our Jewish community, but we would be able to implement a program that would impact the lives of these children. I am so thankful for this opportunity because it led me to apply to a position within Ometz.
When I got the job as fundraising intern, my title changed to the A Chance to Shine Chair of the Young Adult Committee. Every year, Ometz has an annual gala raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the child services and programs that the organization provides. My employers were very open to starting a new initiative called the Shine Afterparty. We decided to create this initiative in order to engage the 18-30 age cohort of our Jewish community. I started as an intern once a week throughout the year and I got hired as a summer student so that I can work on the party full-time.
Because I was organizing the Afterparty, inevitably my proudest moment was seeing the outcome, on the night of the event. The A Chance to Shine gala was so well put together and the Shine Afterparty was a huge success. There were over 100 guests who attended the Shine Afterparty. I received so much support from the Ometz staff as well as the committee members. I could not have asked for a more fulfilling experience. I knew that the evening would be successful, if I could be confident that one guest felt inspired. The goal of the Afterparty is to create future ambassadors within Ometz and the community. Not only did people feel inspired, but I’ve received an overwhelming response from the attended guests.
Ometz is truly a special organization. What is unique about the organization is that they are open-minded to new programs and opportunities. Ometz will continue to prosper and will only grow to support more members of our community. There is still so much about Ometz that I have yet to learn. Although I will be leaving to Israel for a year to study a Master’s in Nonprofit Management and Leadership, I know that my time at Ometz is not over.

Choosing the Right High School

By Joanne Baskin, Manager, School Services

If you have already selected a high school for and with your child for next year, it is probably because of one or more of the following reasons:
It is a cultural/religious “fit”;
It is in close proximity to your home;
It is the same school your older children attend(ed);
It is “what you know” as it is the school you attended.
Those are all pragmatic and legitimately sound reasons; however, it may also be important to consider some other factors in order to ensure your child’s transition from primary school is positive and beneficial to his or her learning and stage of development.
Betsy Van Dorn, in an article in Family Education.com, suggests the 3A’s of exploration: attitude, academics and amenities in asking the right questions of a potential school.
Considering a school’s ability to make you feel welcome, unhurried and open to communication is of utmost importance. Understanding how this is facilitated (written communication, email, phone calls, meetings) are ways of seeing what resonates with your style of communication. Knowing the attitudes and policies around partnership with parents and discipline of students are “key” to getting a feel for the school and how it relates to your own values and needs.
Academics are often central to a good school choice therefore understanding the curriculum will be an asset in the selection process. Knowing how the curriculum conforms to Quebec Ministry of Education standards as well as non-secular programming is also important. How well are teachers supported in their learning, such as attending conferences and ongoing professional development may be additional questions to ask. It is also important to understand how the school organizes its resources to cater specifically to your child’s needs.
In the area of amenities, the school building and layout, its general feeling of welcoming in this layout, will enhance a sense of belonging in youth and their families. The use of technology, its space for expression of the arts and physical activity are further components to look at.
Visiting a school beyond its Open House gatherings are another way of feeling out the functioning of the school. Can you see and hear what the school stands for when you walk in? Are the students happy , proud and engaged in learning?
Knowing what your own child requires academically, socially and emotionally is a way to begin this process of exploration in developing the right set of elements to consider and the right questions to ask.

To learn more about how Ometz can help your family meet life’s challenges, please contact us at 514-342-0000 or visit www.ometz.ca

It’s The Most Wonderful Time…Of The Year

By Joanne Baskin, Manager, School Services

If you are humming this familiar Bureau En Gros (Staples) commercial jingle, you have already been inundated with countless marketing messages around back to school specials. Apart from the tuition/school fees, books and uniforms, parents are preached to as to what school supplies, clothing, backpacks, lunch bags and locker organizers their children need to be supplied with. In an age of consumerism, parents can be overwhelmed by the marketing messages which only mask the real emotions both parents and students may feel in the anticipation of the start of a new school year.

From a parent’s perspective, some of the common anxieties are:

•    Will my child like his/her teachers?
•    Will my child make new friends?
•    Will he/she be bullied?
•    Will my child be able to keep up with the academic requirements?
•    Will I be able to find the right resources to support my child if more help is required?
•    Will my child be happy?

From a student’s perspective, some of the common anxieties are:
•    Will I like my teacher?
•    Will my peers like me?
•    Will I look stupid?
•    Will I be bullied?
•    Will I be able to keep up?
•    Will my parents be happy with me?
At first glance, the list appears to be the same. However, depending on the parent, and depending on the student, the order of preoccupation may differ. It is important to recognize that each family has its own set of circumstances which will support or challenge these worries. It is also important to establish communication weeks before school starts to address the above concerns, if any, in ways which provide both reassurance and strategies in how best to meet them if they arise.
Here are some suggestions around easing the transition back to school:
1.    Start Early. Get things out of the way before school starts so as not to interfere with the early weeks of routines becoming established. Meeting medical appointments, shopping for required supplies and doing a run through of the morning wake up routine are some ways of getting a head start. If your child walks to school, practice and time the route.
2.    Reset the body clock. Late bedtimes and late wake-ups are common in the summer. Begin a couple of weeks before to get the times closer to school schedules incrementally and  less adjustment once the alarm rings.
3.    Plan Social Activities. Stephanie Dolgoff of parenting Magazine suggests the following:
“Find out before his first day if his friends are going to be in his class, and if they’re not, prepare him for that by talking over whom he can eat lunch with and making plans for after school. See if you can have a late-summer playdate to reconnect him with some of the kids he likes, or even arrange to have breakfast on the first day of school with his best friend and his best friend’s mom. The more he knows about what’s coming up, the better he’ll feel.”
4.    Try to Project Needs. If you or your child is worried about academic performance, re-establish ties with available resources through your school or past tutors. Contact your child’s teacher and school counsellor for further resources once school begins.
5.    Air Your Concerns Together. Create a safe space where your child can vent or reveal any concerns or fears. Listen, remain positive and encourage your child to come up with strategies or solutions. Remind them you are there for them and who else in the school is available for them as well.
Finally, remind your child about his/her own ability to cope and use past examples to reinforce that message. Learning new things and making new friends are great reasons to sing, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

To learn more about how Ometz can help your familiy meet life’s challenges , please contact us at 514-342-0000 or visit www.ometz.ca

Promouvoir l’engagement scolaire: Que peuvent faire les parents?

Agence Ometz appuie les journées de la persévérance scolaire

Agence Ometz appuie les journées de la persévérance scolaire

Par Joanne Baskin, Chef de service, Services scolaires

Le saviez-vous ?

  • 1,9 milliard de dollars c’est ce que le problème du décrochage scolaire coûte chaque année à la société québécoise
  • 75% des étudiants diplômés en 2013. Il s’agit d’une augmentation significative de 5% au cours des dernières années
    • Les diplômés du secondaire vivent en moyenne 7 ans de plus
    • Le taux de chômage est deux fois plus élevé chez les décrocheurs
    • L’éducation est classée au 2e rang des principaux problèmes rencontrés par la société québécoise
    • Le revenu annuel moyen des décrocheurs est de 25 000 $ contre 40 000 $ pour les diplômés du secondaire

Les faits ne concernent pas seulement les questions scolaires, mais aussi les tendances sociétales. Les parents doivent être conscients et s’assurer qu’eux-mêmes, leurs écoles et leurs enfants détiennent les cartes favorisant la réussite scolaire.

Le 10 février 2014 marquera l’événement annuel « Journées de la persévérance scolaire »  qui se déroulera dans les écoles du Québec. De nombreuses écoles proposeront des activités dans et hors des salles de classe visant à promouvoir l’engagement de l’école dans les communautés scolaires. Le programme reflétera ce sujet par le biais du dialogue, d’essais, d’activités artistiques, de projets à l’échelle de l’école, de banderoles et d’affiches pour n’en nommer que quelques-uns. Les parents peuvent participer à la poursuite du dialogue en particulier dans les écoles où les facteurs de risque de décrochage sont plus élevés.

Selon le site des « Journées de la persévérance scolaire » www.perseverancescolaire.com/, les efforts devraient comprendre les éléments suivants :

• Donner l’exemple, encourager l’effort, applaudir les réussites.
• Offrir ou trouver de l’aide si l’enfant a de la difficulté à l’école.
• Encourager la lecture dès le plus jeune âge.
• Questionner régulièrement l’enfant sur ses expériences à l’école.
• Exprimer fréquemment l’importance que vous accordez à l’école.
• Dites souvent à l’enfant que vous croyez en ses capacités.

L’importance de la participation des parents, à la fois avec leurs enfants et l’école, ne peut pas être surestimée. Lorsque les familles s’intéressent au vécu scolaire de leurs enfants, les élèves ont plus de chance de mieux réussir les tests standardisés, se dépasser sur le plan scolaire, fréquenter régulièrement l’école, avoir une attitude positive à l’école et sont moins susceptibles de s’engager dans des comportements négatifs, antisociaux (alcoolisme et toxicomanie, conflits avec les pairs).

Ometz Walks For Mental Health!

By Marcie Klein, Manager, Mental Health Support Services

Ometz walking team organizer Marcie Klein

Ometz walking team organizer Marcie Klein

1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, and the remaining four will know someone who will.

On Sunday, October 20th Ometz staff and clients will join the more than 1000 others who will be walking to create awareness and reduce stigma around mental illness and its’ enormous impact, both on those who live with it and those who support them.

Ometz is a founding member of the organizing committee for Montreal Walks for Mental Health, a committee that was started in 2009 and has now become a fully developed foundation whose mission is to increase public awareness about mental health, stigma, and discrimination towards people who struggle with mental illness every day.  The mission of the Montreal Walks for Mental Health Foundation is to organize and grow this annual walk more each year and to support organizations, like Ometz, who provide much needed mental health support services and promote recovery in the community.

Over the last several years Canada and more specifically the Mental Health Commission of Canada has supported the goal of recovery for those living with mental illness.  Recovery does not necessarily mean cure, but rather focuses on people recovering a meaningful life while making the most of their strengths and capacities.

At Ometz, adults living with mental illness are offered a number of services designed to help them achieve their individual goals for recovery in the areas of supported independent living, day to day coping strategies, returning to employment and strategies to help them feel less isolated and more connected to community.  Ometz currently assists over 130 adults with mental illness.

Championing school perseverance and protective factors with “Kids Can!”

Kids-Can-logoBy Rosa Caporicci, Program Coordinator, Kids Can!

It’s a very striking number: 24.8%. That number represents the percentage of high school students on the Island of Montreal who drop out.The good news is that that number can change with the right strategies in place.In the spirit of Hooked on School Days taking place between February 11-15, Ometz would like to acknowledge the efforts of community partners who are endeavouring to bring that number down to zero.        
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United against bullying and violence in schools

Jasmin Roy Agence Ometz CSQ

Gail Small, Co-Executive Director, Ometz
Howard Berger, Co-Executive Director, Ometz,
Louise Chabot, President, CSQ
Jasmin Roy, President, Fondation Jasmin Roy
Barbara Victor, Clinical Director, Ometz
Luc Allaire, Advisor, CSQ

By: Barbara Victor, Director, Clinical Services

The very worst part of the bullying story is : how consistently unsupported and unprotected by adults children have felt.  When asked who they would turn to for help, 40% of our students indicated that they would go to a friend, 17% would speak to a parent and only 4% would speak to an adult at school.
On September 23, Ometz joined the Fondation Jasmin Roy, the CSQ, and the Consulate General on the United States in Montreal to announce an historic partnership : to unite our efforts around the creation of a tool-kit that will enable schools across Quebec deal with bullying and violence, and meet the requirements of Bill 56.
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Ten things parents can do to help their kids with bullying.

By Barbara Victor, Director, Clinical Services

Every day in our schools and communities, children are teased, threatened, or tormented by bullies.The messages exchanged between children and their caregivers in just 15 minutes or more a day can be instrumental in building a healthier and safer environment for children. If you suspect your child is being bullied, here are ten things a parent can do to help.

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How do I know if my kid is being bullied?

By Barbara Victor, Director, Clinical Services

Bullying involves repeated acts of physical, emotional or social behaviour that are intentional, controlling, and hurtful. Bullying is a learned behaviour, evident as early as two years of age. Bullying can be either direct or indirect. Direct bullying usually is seen and felt readily. Indirect bullying (deliberate exclusion, name calling, etc.) is much more difficult to remedy, and should be clearly seen as different from direct bullying. Continue reading

The Importance of Family

By Barbara Victor, Director, Clinical Services

Families, no matter their makeup or description, are of vital importance to our children.  Families serve as a gateway to the larger world, and teach children how to interact, behave and relate to others.

It used to be thought that our children could be protected from the dangers in our communities by working to eliminate those risks. If only that were possible! We have learned that it is becoming an increasingly difficult and long-term effort to eliminate the psychological and physical risks of hunger, poverty and violence, a lack of connectedness, limited community resources and the repercussions of stress, depression and other mental health risks.
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