I had the chance to talk with Marilène Paquin, program and services coordinator at the Évasion Day Center, which welcomed the young Adele from Sophie-Barat High School last summer as part of the program. A first experience as a Student Business mentor.
1- Tell me about Centre Évasion.
Centre Évasion is a social economy enterprise located in Côte-des-Neiges and founded in 2004 by Mrs. Ramona Mincic. Our services offer therapeutic activities to stimulate the cognitive and physical in the elderly who suffer from different pathologies. We offer our services at the day center in Côte-des-Neiges, at home or in residence. We serve a clientele suffering from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other dementias as well as mild cases of intellectual disability.
By including the administrative aspect, we are a team of twenty people. The field team is mainly composed of professionals and students in special education, gerontology, recreation and social work. We also hire recreationists, art therapists and we also deal with other external specialists. The team is complemented by several volunteers and trainees who are welcomed each year.
2- Speaking of trainees, how was your Student Business mentor experience?
We clicked right away. The young lady was really charming and very welcoming to the participants. She had already lived with people living with cognitive loss in her family. She did not have a surprise effect on our customers and it easily integrated with the participants, but also with the team.
It must be said, the clientele with the elderly living with cognitive loss is not always easy and not everyone can work with these people. I found it fantastic to be able to introduce our clientele to the next generation and give this type of experience to a young person. It’s such a beautiful program, you are to discover!
3- What are the succession needs in your field?
The needs are there, and we know that in the field of health it is not always easy. What is certain is that in social work or special education with people with cognitive loss, there is a future! There will always be employment with the elderly.
4- Have you kept in touch with your trainee?
Yes! She came back to volunteer and she told our coordinator that she wanted to come back again. We really had good contact, good chemistry. I do not know if she will continue her studies in there but she would definitely have the profile to do it.
5- Would you recommend the Student Business program to other organizations?
Yes so much! I already do it. Secondary III is a critical age. You ask yourself questions, the school asks you questions, asks you where you want to go. Living an internship experience where students have the opportunity to see what might interest them later is great!
We are used to working as a team at the interns’ reception, but this one was younger, it was a beautiful project. It was very rewarding to welcome this student and I said to myself: if we can make this clientele known to our young people and give them the taste to work in our field, so much the better!
6- Do you have a good memory of the internship?
Overall, it is the good contacts between the trainee and the participants. They found her young and she did not take it personally, she played on it, she participated and it did not bother her.
7- Do you have a message to send to a young person who would like to do an internship in your organization?
It is a beautiful experience to learn about oneself. It’s a clientele that can be destabilizing. Living an internship experience here will lead you to develop your sensitivity towards a more vulnerable clientele.
We start talking about Alzheimer’s disease, but often this disease is still scary. To live this experience makes it possible to realize that, in spite of the disease, some people remain very cultivated. Often they keep very precise memories of the past and they can teach us a lot about the job they did before.
It is a beautiful experience, a life experience, as long as you are open to this clientele.
8- Did your experience encourage you towards the next generations of workers?
I am a positive person, I trust and what I saw in this girl is good potential. She was on and asked good questions. I find that the rate of young people who want to take part in Student Business program is also very inspiring for the next generation. Choosing to take a week of their summer to explore an adult environment is impressive!
9- The last word …
Congratulations to all your team! We are well supervised, you take care of partner organizations. It’s always nice to interact with you, the answers are always fast, you are available. It’s great what you do and it gives the taste to continue with you!
Thank you !
This article is part of a series of portraits of mentors 2017 that will be published punctually by the summer.
Photo credits :
The photos identified with the Montreal Relève logo were made by Sarah Geerits.