Youth in the Lac La Biche area were having an increasingly difficult time passing the written test required to obtain their Learner’s Licences. As a result, they were delayed in getting their driver’s licences, which of course limited their ability to find employment and gain freedom and independence.
As a result, Lac La Biche Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) partnered with Community Mobilization Consultants from the Office of Traffic Safety, Employabilities, Community Futures, Community Adult Learning, and Tribal Chiefs Employment and Training.
The goal was to run a Class 7 Learner's prep course (which was developed by Tribal Chiefs) and teach the kids in a way that would increase their chances of passing and also increase their confidence surrounding driving.
The course was offered to youth age 13-18, as Employabilities runs a course in town that serves 18+ clientele.
It was also very important to offer the course free of charge so cost would not limit participation.
Barriers to Overcome
The program dealt with a number of barriers for their youth, including:
- ensuring adequate transportation to and from the course
- making sure youth have the proper ID required to take the written test
- parents/guardians coming with them for the first time to the registries office to sign them up to write their learner's
- CONFIDENCE (past failure has made some youth frustrated and unwilling to try the written test again)
- the cost to take the written test (especially multiple times) was definitely a barrier for some families
The test is difficult for youth – especially on the computer and in the location in Lac La Biche is not the best environment for some kids (loud, not private enough, etc). Some students need options such as going to another centre where they can write the test on paper, have a reader, etc.
I personally never realized what significant barriers there are for some youth. If they live out of town and do not have a parent/guardian who is willing or able to take them to write the test, how can they do it? And if they fail numerous times, that’s even more trips to town that they need to take in order to write.
- Christine Martin, Youth Outreach Worker
A Successful Program
There was a high success rate for youth and a high need for the course (each one is full).
In 2018, we ran seven courses with a total of 110 students. (We also ran one in 2017 and two so far in 2019.)
So far, 80 (73%) have their learner’s licences fairly soon after taking the course, and there may be more since last count.
"Since I’m the Youth Outreach Worker with FCSS, by teaching the course I gained valuable connections with some youth that I would not normally see," says Christine Martin. "Once the youth take the course and trust that I have their best interests in mind, they are more likely to take part in other beneficial training and programs."
What made the course successful?
- committing to run courses on a regular basis
- youth really buying into the course and really listening to the tips and strategies
- follow up and continued support (touching base with participants and encouraging them to continue taking the test or re-taking the course if necessary)
- having a fun/interactive/easy going environment and really taking into account different learning styles
Making a Difference
Christine Martin reflects on the impact of this program and the feedback she has received from youth and families.
The feedback we have received so far regarding the program is unreal. As the instructor, I give my contact information to the kids while at the course and ask them to please let me know when they pass the test. It is the absolute best feeling to get texts from the kids after the course. Here are a few examples of just a few of the messages I’ve received:
- "I passed my learners today and I’m happy! Thank you!"
- "I just wanted to say thank-you for everything you have done. Without the course we couldn’t have passed."
- "I am proud to say I got my learners. Thank you for your course (which helped a lot). Thank you, once again I am very grateful."
I can honestly say this course is so powerful because it gives these kids a chance to succeed and really realize how much they are capable of when they are given the right tools.
- Christine Martin, Youth Outreach Worker
I also receive emails from parents who are very appreciative of the program. Some parents have been very frustrated in the past because their children have tried numerous times to pass the written test, with no success.
- "Thank you very much for presenting this course, I didn’t realize you were doing it yourself! Thank you for your time and energy, what a great difference you make in these kids’ life, for their learners!"
- "Just letting you know Kyle went for his learners today and he passed!!! Thank you so much."
- "I would like to thank you for having my son in your class, Just to let you know after the class I have scheduled him to take the learners exam yesterday and he passed on his first attempt. You're doing a great job keep it up."
- "Thank you for running this course Christine. Vincent enjoyed your course and he was able to pass his learners on his second attempt this week. What a great program!"
In addition to this, I can just feel the sense if confidence from these kids when they realize that passing IS possible! That they WILL get their Learner’s at some point and then WILL be driving one day. Quite a few of the kids that take the course are so discouraged by failure, they start to wonder if they will ever drive. I can honestly say this course is so powerful because it gives these kids a chance to succeed and really realize how much they are capable of when they are given the right tools.