Here’s yet another sign that I’m getting old: recently I took one of my teenage kids to work, yet again. The national annual Take Our Kids to Work Day falls at the beginning of November each year. The event has been Canada-wide since 1998, when The Learning Partnership took the GTA-based event national. This year’s program was sponsored by Scotiabank and had over 75,000 Canadian organizations, 18,000 teachers, and over 250,000 Canadian students in grade nine participating.
My Take Our Kids to Work Day experience
This year, my daughter Ainsley was one of 16 students who spent the day at the office. My Guelph-based organization, Homewood Health Centre, is one of the largest mental health and addiction facilities in Canada and has participated since 2007. According to our Director of Human Resources, Lori Wilson, the tradition is for a parent to organize the day’s agenda. In many organizations kids shadow their parents for the day, as was the case when my daughter Haley joined me at another organization a few years ago. At Homewood, students spend the day touring the campus, meeting program leaders, doctors, nurses and other professionals who work closely with patients and clients at Homewood.
When Ainsley brought home the permission form, I asked her why she wanted to participate.
“I really want to know more about what you do,” she said.
It was a great opportunity to give her a flavour of the work I’m so passionate about. A couple of years ago she described my job as “sitting at the front of the room running PowerPoint” — which on some days is absolutely the case — but she had no idea what I really spend my days doing.
The program this year was led by Dr. Stephen Clarke, a physician with Homewood’s Addiction Medicine Service. Dr. Clarke spent a full day with the kids and introduced them to the work that more than 600 people do each day at the Centre. It was a full day that included a talk on the 132-year history of Homewood, sessions covering the full gamut of Homewood programs as well as “Tips for Your First Job”, and bowling in Homewood’s vintage bowling alley as part of the recreation therapy program. Ainsley said that her favourite part of the day was learning about horticulture.
Wilson says that Homewood’s interest in Take Our Kids to Work Day extends beyond helping kids get to know where their parents work.
“It’s about introducing kids to new career choices, and helping them get aligned to careers they may never have known existed,” she explains. “It’s a great opportunity to get to know tomorrow’s employees.”
Ainsley tells me that each of her friends had a different experience. Some shadowed their parent for the entire day. Others had a fairly regimented day and still others spent time in organizations with a carnival-like atmosphere, including games and contests designed to help students understand the company and its products. Without fail, her friends loved the day.
“Our Take Our Kids to Work program has grown enormously over the years and Scotiabank has supported it since the very beginning,” said Akela Peoples, President and CEO of The Learning Partnership. “This program has provided millions of students with an introductory look into their future. Students who participated in Take Our Kids to Work are exploring career options earlier in school and Canadian businesses, like Scotiabank, are ready and willing to help them.”
The Learning Partnership also took the opportunity with this year’s event to launch a new app called Real Talk geared towards high school students; content is provided by new entrants to the workforce who have successfully made the school-to-work transition.
“Real Talk promotes multiple paths to success,” Peoples said. “There are profiles representing career fields from college, apprenticeship, university and grad school as well as profiles of young Canadians who have gone straight to work after high school (roughly 30%). Young people from almost every province and territory are represented.”
Ainsley sums up her experience in the way only a teenager can: “I learned a bunch of stuff like what you do, and how you guys help people.”