The children and families of New Kensington and Arnold have been touched by a number of social problems, including high unemployment rates. The causes of unemployment are multifaceted, and helping one gain employment requires a comprehensive approach. In response to this particular need in the community, Sonward developed the Career Readiness Program.
In order to enroll in the Career Readiness Program, children ages 12-18 must fill out an application, and attend a formal interview. For approximately eight weeks, each Program participant attends a four-hour long weekly session, at which various topics are discussed. The value of hard work, interviewing skills, teamwork, and respect for authority are just a few of the lessons learned. Included in each week‘s session are team building activities and a service project. The service project gives the participants an opportunity to put into practice what he or she has learned in the lesson. In addition, every participant works as an intern throughout the week for 10 hours at Sonward’s summer day program. During a child’s time in the Career Readiness program, he or she is mentored by Sonward staff. This is extremely beneficial, as they are given the opportunity to learn hands-on, what it looks like to be a desirable employee.
Sonward aims to build a community where people feel understood, and safe to share their points of view. The Career Readiness Program offers participants the opportunity to do this at every session. Each week, the participants share what their high and low points of the past week were. At the end of every session, participants are encouraged to self-reflect, and share with the group what they are proud about, and what they are sorry about for that day. Also, participants are provided a free lunch every week, where they are able to build relationship. At the end of the Program, participants are sent to a summer camp called Citikidz summer camp for a week, free of charge, as a reward for successful completion of the Program.
The Career Readiness Program addresses all aspects of obtaining and maintaining employment in today’s workforce. The skills and experience gained from the Program will serve each participant and the community for years to come.