Posted by John Farrow on Sep 24, 2019
Bill Egnatoff introduced Roger Romero from Pathways Kingston by stressing our club's strong connections with the program, and that we know that the program works.  Bill also noted that we have had Pathways students participate in Adventures in History.
By way of background, Roger noted that Pathways is dependent on partnerships, like the United Way, one of the first organizations to offer support to their program.  Pathways is part of the Kingston Community Health Centre, and they both serve primarily an area of the city that faces significant challenges.  Roger showed a video talking about how he faced challenges as a young refugee from El Salvador, and tied that to his dedication and that of the entire Pathways staff, many of whom have been with the organization since the beginning.  This is an important aspect of their work, the kids they serve need consistency.
Roger is the Program Coordinator for Pathways Kingston, meaning he oversees the after school programs and Pathways' strategic partnerships.  Pathways is present all across Canada, helping students who face challenges graduate from high school and build a successful future.  From it's beginnings in Regent Park in Toronto, Pathways addressed four pillars for success - advocacy for the students, mentorship, financial resources (usually to address food security issues), and one on one help of a graduation coach who supports the student even outside of academics.  Relationships are the key in the process.
Pathways Kingston opened in 2010, and they are starting to see the change in the community.  Why are they associated with Kingston Community Health Centre?  Because KCHC addresses the determinants of poor health, low education being one of these factors.  Pathways is just one part of a 'wrap-around' approach to health care in Kingston's North end.  Students dropped out at twice the rate of the rest of the city in this area.  Other statistics gathered by KCHC back up the need for support, especially the fact that the average family income is $23,000 less than other areas of the city.  The goal for Pathways was to help the students in their service area finish high school and be prepared for the transition to post-secondary education.  The results are impressive - in both the applied and academic streams, Pathways students are much more likely to go on to post-secondary education, beating averages by more than 20%.
Pathways target is to serve about 325 students per year, and they have served over 1,000 students, and have 300 alumni.  The students attend all area high schools, and remain with the program for all 4 years of high school.  These students have complex lives which affect their schooling.  The have ACE's - adverse childhood experiences.  These traumas create toxic stress in the brain and can adversely affect the student's health and education.  And these ACE's can cause problems to subsequent generations.  Pathways addresses this by forming a bond of safety and trust with their students.  The workers don't do things for their students, they do things with their students, empowering them to get what they need.  Peer support is also important.
So everything is rosy, right?  Not so much.  When the students went on tp post-secondary school, they fared poorly, often dropping out.  They couldn't make the transition, often dropping out with large debts and taking low paying jobs.  The national organization didn't have a solution, so Pathways Kingston came up with the idea of having a worker dedicated to helping graduates connect to the support network that Colleges and Universities provide.  Again, results were amazing - 80% of the students stayed in post-secondary school, and those who did drop out were still connected and offered help on what to do next.  That's where Rotary comes in - helping raise the money to fund this program for 3 years, finding mentors, hiring graduates, and more.  Roger wants to help create the next generation of Rotarians.  These kids want to give back, they want to work and be successful!
Roger was thanked for his presentation by Robert Reid.