Douglas’s R.E.A.L. Program seeks assertive students to lead after-school activities
By Elliot Chan, Staff Reporter
The Real Experiences in Applied Leadership (R.E.A.L.) Program, formed in fall 2011, has nurtured many after-school and community programs catering to elementary school kids. Douglas College leadership students seeking challenges and new experiences design each program independently, with the goal of developing skills and working with the next generation of learners.
“A lot of people go to school and learn technical skills,” said Campus Life coordinator, Anna Schachner, “but they do not [necessarily] have the opportunity to practice interaction and leadership skills that a lot of employers look for.”
Students involved with R.E.A.L. will have an opportunity to apply both hard and soft skills in after-school programs. Those chosen to be a part of R.E.A.L. will receive certified training from Douglas College staff and New Westminster school district coordinators, in addition to the High Five certification for healthy childhood development. High Five is an organization promoting Canada’s standard for children’s recreation and sport.
The R.E.A.L. Program is open to all students from any type of academic background.
“A Theatre student can plan drama lessons or activities that will build self-confidence and public speaking skills,” said Schachner. “Or a sport science student can develop games in the gym, or a Child and Youth Care Counseling student can plan arts and crafts and organize weekly themes.”
R.E.A.L. leaders must commit approximately three hours a week to implement the program they created for the children. After every session of working directly with the kids, the leaders will be evaluated and receive feedback to improve their ability to run their program and develop personal and professional skill sets.
“There are a few guidelines,” said Schachner, “but students are encouraged to be very creative with their program planning.”
Application for the eight-week program is currently open until October 28. Those accepted into the R.E.A.L. Program will then attend two-day, seven-hour mandatory training sessions on November 2 and 3. Afterward, the group of leaders will plan a “parent’s night off” evening, where they can have an initial opportunity to meet and interact with the children. During that night, they will develop a two to three-hour program where they will be evaluated. From there they will pair off and start planning their program in the new year.
When leaders return in January, there will be a three-hour catch-up training to refresh them on what they learned in November.
In the previous year, 19 students participated in the program at two elementary schools in New Westminster. If you’re interested in getting R.E.A.L. and joining this year, apply at the website or drop by their informational sessions on October 22 in room 1715, and October 23 in room 1730 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m at the New Westminster campus. For more details visit www.douglife.ca/real-leadership/