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Breakthrough is an innovative, once-a-week, evening program for current and former Youth Peer participants.
Ronnie Martin and Marilyn MacDonald-MacKinnon, enthusiastically facilitate group sessions where the participants discuss personal challenges and generate strategies for dealing with potential pitfalls in order to help themselves and others develop greater resiliency in their lives. Discussion topics are identified by the youth volunteers. Guest presenters are invited on a monthly basis to provide additional insights related to mental health, addictions, civic engagement, and other topics arising from group discussion.
The group–meeting since 2011–has been energetic in coming up with ways to help other young people develop similar skills and insights. As well, the group volunteers to engage in structured service activities that give back to their community.
The ability to participate in activities and projects that help other youth avoid or overcome pitfalls that these young people have faced in their own lives, provides them an improved sense of self-worth. They not only have a sense of belonging and caring for one another within this group, but also of being a person who has something to offer the wider world.
The sessions take place Tuesday nights from 6:30 – 8:30 at the Youth Peer Center, 290 Whitney Avenue, downstairs from the Sydney Adult High School.
Activities and Plans, 2017 – 2019
Building on the success of their Rising from the Pitfalls Handbook (see below), the group is working on a life skills resource: “Breakthrough, Surviving to Thriving Handbook.” Developed over the course of many sessions, the book will cover issues that fall under the categories: Dreading, Treading, Surviving, and Thriving.
In December 2017, the group sold tickets for a basket of baked goods donated by volunteers.>The proceeds were used to buy food and gifts for two needy families in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.This is a great example of how this group gives back to those in our community who are marginalized. Special recognition and thanks goes to Breakthrough participant, Stephanie Rich for spearheading this initiative.
Other Notable Events:
February — Volunteering to be life-sized puppets at the fundraiser for Down Syndrome, Cape Breton
April — Helping build housing in Whitney Pier
2nd Breakthrough Dinner, benefiting the homeless
This amazing group followed up the success of last December’s charity dinner by doing it again! The dinner, held at and with the support of United Protestant Church in Sydney including turkey chef extraordinaire and EPIC board member, Dana Feltmate
The Breakthrough Notebook, Rising from the Pitfalls
The first project produced by the group is The Breakthrough Notebook, Rising from the Pitfalls–Youth Insights. This a youth-generated resource, written in 2011 – 2013 with funding from the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. Life challenges and crises that these students identified were discussed in a safe group situation while a Breakthrough staff person wrote down the student’s ideas, both the pitfalls and the strategies for overcoming or avoiding them. The notebook–in reader-friendly bullet point form–is intended to transform the insights of youth participants into a practical and easy-to-use lifeline for other youth in similar crisis situations. It is available for download on our Resources page.
The group initiated school and other community presentations on crisis and resiliency and distributed copies of the Breakthrough Notebook Rising From Pitfalls, which they authored. The group has expanded beyond self-talk interchanges to focus on giving to other marginalized members of the community. Activities have included helping seniors in their social activities and supporting Special Olympics.
Activities, Fall 2015 The Breakthrough Hunger Event
On December 5, 2015, the group hosted an overflow crowd filled with dignitaries, supporters, and well-wishers from all over CBRM for the first Breakthrough Hunger Dinner.
Breakthrough participants planned and executed this amazingly successful evening with the help of, then facilitator, Delores Feltmate and her husband, Reverend (and EPIC board member) Dana Feltmate and the congregation of the United Protestant Church in Sydney River. The Breakthrough kids planned the menu, made brochures, sold tickets, bought all the groceries and supplies, made decorations, gathered door prizes, set up the room and the tables, cooked a delicious turkey dinner, served and cleaned up afterward. In addition, they hosted the evening with poised and well-presented introductions, speeches, and thank yous. The impetus for this evening was a desire on the part of the group to have Breakthrough jackets to show how proud they are to belong to this special group. With this as a starting point, they achieved so much more. By working so hard to make this event a success, they were able to gather many donations for the local food bank and to sponsor Christmas dinner and more for not one but two families.
All of us associated with EPIC are incredibly proud of the Breakthrough kids for their commitment, not only to the group, but also–and more importantly–to each other.
And don’t they look awesome in their new jackets?
Previous facilitators include former Director of YPP, Barb Donovan, former Co-Director, Delores Feltmate, and Madonna Doucette.