McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

CORE program for Hamilton youth to launch

By Amanda Boundris
Published: January 15, 2013
Matthew Atkinson and Dalian Bledea
Matthew Atkinson, left, and Dalian Bledea work on their personal interest projects in media arts as part of the CORE program, which officially launches January 16.

Community Organizations Reaching Everyone (CORE), an innovative Hamilton program for struggling youth that helps them link with existing learning opportunities, discover their passions and develop job skills, is being officially launched this week.

CORE involves university, college and community agency groups and individuals. The program engages youth — high-school dropouts, homeless youth, and young adults on social assistance — in meaningful activities while learning through the arts. Current high school co-op students and returning students can gain high school credits with their CORE art studies. CORE has been a pilot project since September, with more than 30 youth currently enrolled.

A launch event is being held Jan. 16 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the McMaster Innovation Park Atrium building to "showcase what CORE provides for our children and youth through their actual student projects and our research findings," said Gina Browne, a McMaster nursing professor. "We will compare the strengths and abilities of CORE participants with those of Hamilton street youth who are not enrolled in CORE."

CORE is one of Browne's priority intervention projects in the Systems of Prevention and Care program funded by Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. In the CORE Experiential Learning Program at MIP, participants design their own projects in media arts, visual arts, music, literary arts, dance and cultural heritage, and are mentored by McMaster interns and a volunteer support team.

"From a nurse's perspective, CORE is an alternative mental health promotion strategy through the arts to help youth identify their passions and strengths, thereby enhancing their self-esteem, confidence and ability to contribute. This is an innovative and integrated approach to learning," said Browne, who is also director of McMaster's Health and Social Service Utilization Research Unit.

Core is a customized learning program developed by Patricia Gough, a former Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board principal and teacher. It is an alternative way of learning for those who have trouble with traditional approaches in school.

CORE is also supported by the McMaster President's Fund, as it aligns with the priorities outlined in President Patrick Deane's Forward with Integrity strategy.

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