There’s that gotcha moment that always brings a smile to Jaylene Poirier’s face.
She wades in a pool, helping six-year-old Brody Long with his letter recognition.
As a volunteer for Pathways Health Centre for Children’s Handwriting Without Tears program, Jaylene works in the pool with Brody for up to an hour each week to draw and recognize letters through the interactive swim program.
It doesn’t take long before Brody is grasping the concepts and Jaylene is smiling from ear to ear.
“It’s a chance to help children. They have fun in the pool and I like seeing kids happy,” says 26-year-old Jaylene, a second-year student in Lambton College’s Child and Youth Worker program.
“Right out of high school I knew I wanted to work with kids. I absolutely love it.”
Jaylene has also been a “Big Sister” for the past four years with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Sarnia-Lambton.
She’s also a winner of the W. Garfield Weston Foundation Upper Year Award, handed out to just 25 students enrolled in a Canadian college.
Along with the notoriety, the award waives the student’s tuition for two years and provides a $4,000 stipend in each of the next two years.
Winners also have access to $3,500 to put towards a four-week learning experience helping a non-profit organization located anywhere in the world.
She was also the recipient of the Jim Stokley Memorial Scholarship.
With unending energy, Jaylene successfully juggles her college classes, volunteer work, and full-time hours as a manager/bartender for a local establishment.
She says Lambton College promotes and supports community involvement. She describes the instructors as being well-trained, knowledgeable and always willing to help students.
“I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing,” she says.
“I love this program. The faculty are great and the program is exceptional.”
Jaylene says she feels like she’s always been meant to help children, perhaps dating back to her early age school years when she was the victim of bullying.
“It’s not fair that kids should have to endure that. You should be happy as a child. So that’s what I focus on when I’m working with children.”
Together with fellow college student Crystal Fach, Jaylene created a Gay Straight Alliance at Lambton College, to create an atmosphere where students can feel safe and accepted, regardless of their sexual orientation.
She cites an alarming rate of recent suicides in Sarnia-Lambton where bullying was a factor.
Her career goal is to work with teenagers as a child and youth worker in a high school setting.
“I really didn’t have anyone to talk to when I was growing up. I want youth to know that I’m an ally for them.”
For more information on the Child and Youth Worker program at Lambton College, visit www.lambtoncollege.ca/CYWK.
For more information on the W. Garfield Weston Foundation, visit www.westonfoundation.org
Pictured: Lambton College student Jaylene Poirier works with six-year-old Brody Long with his letter recognition. Jaylene is a volunteer for Pathways Health Centre for Children’s Handwriting Without Tears program. She is a second-year student in Lambton College’s Child and Youth Worker program