At 16, Meagan Miron gave up on school. The Pickering teen’s family was falling apart — her father had left, her mother was ill — and there was no one left to put food on the table for Miron and her two little brothers.
So the rock music buff dropped out, and for the next six years tried supporting her family as a grocery cashier — with little luck.
They lost the home in Pickering and landed in the homeless shelter in Scarborough’s Kingston-Galloway neighbourhood. But, a counsellor at the shelter told Miron and other youth about free career training at Centennial College — in Miron’s dream field of recording arts.
Last week, as her mother and brothers watched, Miron delivered the valedictory speech to the graduates of Centennial’s community programs — free five-week crash courses aimed at providing a taste of career training to some of Toronto’s most challenged areas.
Miron, now 22, is one of 85 students — many of them dropouts — who returned to education through Centennial’s career-focused courses in auto repair, first aid, computer repair, video production, food service and recording.
The program at Centennial is one of several training and internship opportunities launched in the summer of 2004 by a task force set up by Toronto Mayor David Miller aimed at at-risk youth.
Colleges, including Centennial, Seneca and Humber, as well as Ryerson University, construction trades and other firms were also taking part in the effort to help youth in areas such as Scarborough, Jane-Finch and Jamestown.
“We don’t think for a second that a five-week course will qualify you for the job of your life, but if it sparks that interest to go on for more education and give them confidence and some skills, that’s what we’re looking for,” said Centennial vice-president Lucy Fromowitz.
- The program includes free bus tickets and lunch, and offers leadership by mentors who are program graduates.