Co-op student learning valuable leadership skills at Frost Manor

Kyler Cavan, left, gets ready to pour soil into a wheelbarrow held by Michael Dawson.

And the skills Kyler Cavan has been learning are being picked up by other students

LINDSAY, Ont. – Co-op student Kyler Cavan says he has been learning valuable leadership skills through a placement at Frost Manor – and those leadership skills are being passed on to other students doing placements at the Lindsay long-term care home.

Frost Manor and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School launched a partnership last year that sees students from the school’s co-op and special education programs come to the home twice a week to learn new skills and develop leadership while giving something back to the community.

Through the partnership, five students have been coming to Frost Manor Tuesdays and Thursdays to assist environmental services and maintenance manager Rick Riel.

The students from the special education and co-op programs arrive at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, right when Rick is going into the daily morning meeting. Rick is able to hand the reigns over to Kyler to oversee projects that need to be done in his absence, and everything has been going “very well,” Rick says.

“My meetings start right at 10 a.m. when they arrive, so Kyler is taking on a huge leadership role,” Rick says. “I discuss with him what tasks I need to have done that day, and then he goes and meets with the EAs (educational assistants) and the other students, and he leads the work.”

The students perform a variety of duties ranging from sorting nuts and bolts to prepping gardens to ensuring Frost Manor’s parking area is free of debris.

“We are working well together completing tasks, and it’s nice to have the students come here every Tuesday and Thursday,” Kyler says. “Whenever Rick goes into a meeting I try my best to take over and the students have two teachers with them to help me. I’ve learned how to take action and get the job done with the other students,” Kyler says.

Teresa Naismith, an educational assistant at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School, says she has also seen this growth in Kyler.

“Kyler has flourished from the start of his co-op,” she says. “It’s to the point where he can take the students and start a task, and I think he has learned that he can show them what needs to be done and then he can step back while they do the work.”

Kyler’s leadership skills have also rubbed off on the students. For example, student Mack Dixon was assisting Kyler replacing vents one day. After being shown how to do it, Mack was able to do the work himself the next day without Kyler supervising.

“From my perspective, this has been a very successful program,” Rick says. “It has been great to have these guys come here and do the work, and it’s rewarding for me to see how much they have progressed as well.”

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