McMaster working with the City of Hamilton to help youth find pathways to higher education

January 19, 2017
photo by Sarah Janes     Katona Sheehan (middle) and Nima Abbasi (right), both peer mentors with the City of Hamilton’s Xperience Annex, learn more about McMaster’s residences, among other aspects of university life, during a recent visit to campus. They will use what they’ve learned to help guide other Hamilton youth who may be considering university, but are facing barriers. Irene Heffernan, Senior Project Manager of employment and education for the City of Hamilton's Neighbourhood Action Strategy, and lead for the Xperience Annex is pictured left.

Peer supporters from the City of Hamilton’s Xperience Annex program were on campus this week to learn more about university life and explore ways they can help other youth find pathways to post-secondary education.

While on campus, the group participated in a drop-in course taught by Social Sciences professor, Tina Fetner, attended a show at the W.J. McCallion Planetarium, participated in a campus tour, and took part in an information session to learn more about student financial aid and how to apply to McMaster.

Xperience Annex– an initiative delivered with funding from the Local Poverty Reduction Fund– connects Hamilton youth between the ages of 18-29 with a range of social services that can help them with anything from meeting basics needs, to education and employment opportunities.

The peer supporters, or youth engagers, work one-on-one with other Hamilton youth to help them navigate these opportunities, including opportunities to pursue post-secondary education.

"The value of coming to campus is to educate our youth engagers so they can bring that knowledge back to the peers they're supporting," says Irene Heffernan, Senior Project Manager of employment and education for the City of Hamilton's Neighbourhood Action Strategy, and lead for the Xperience Annex. "We work with youth that may not have been exposed to opportunities for education. Many of them face barriers and fears. The more information we can bring back to dispel those fears, the more opportunities these youth will recieve."

McMaster and the Xperience Annex are continuing to look at ways to develop future links.