Life skills development is an important part of our CIBC Rights of Passage (ROP) program. It has also become a mental and emotional lifeline to help youth cope with the stress of COVID-19.

This program is for young people to learn and practice transitioning towards more independence. Youth learn how to live independently by having their own rooms and practicing life skills, like budgeting, buying groceries and doing laundry. With help from their workers, youth develop customized action plans to support their progress.

Due to COVID-19, many youth have lost jobs, had classes interrupted and graduation put on hold, disrupting their plans for their future.

With less activity and more isolation, youth workers like Lori know that mental health is a particular concern. “Youth may not be as connected with their support system, they have more time to reflect on past trauma and can feel like they lack purpose,” Lori says.

To cope, some youth are diving into life skills like cooking and meditation and sharing their skills with peers. For youth struggling to adjust, staff are holding one-on-one life skills sessions based on their current needs, including successful e-learning and practicing self-care.

Lori has seen a strong community form in the program from these efforts. “The way the young people are coping and demonstrating resilience is inspiring. They inspire me every day to continue coming in and support them,” she says.

She emphasizes, “The work we do in ROP is important, especially during a time like this. These young people are some of the most vulnerable, and it’s our social responsibility not to let them fall through the cracks.”