Students in Vancouver Island University’s Child and Youth Care program have needed to employ some creative thinking during the pandemic to gain the experience they would usually get by doing practicums.

Cheryl Cameron, VIU’s Practicum Coordinator for the CYC program, and says field experience is an integral part of the program, but COVID-19 put a halt to in-person practicum opportunities.

She says the students found ways to connect with community agencies that help children, youth and families with challenges or obstacles to healthy living.

Teams consisting of five students each worked with community agencies on things that would meet the needs of the organizations and the people they support.

In one case, a youth supported by Nanaimo and Area Resource Services for Families had an interest in music.

Fourth year VIU student Alexis Comeau connected the youth with someone who was able to teach them how to create music in a studio setting.

Another student, Nathan Lowe, who has worked in child and aboriginal services agencies for the past 10 years, says having to work through the restrictions created by the pandemic broadened his connections with other agencies and his knowledge of the services they provide, and also presented the opportunity to bridge Indigenous perspectives with work experience partner NARSF.

Nanaimo and Area Resource Services for Families Program Manager Cara May says these collaborations helped program development at her organization.