CedarBridge Career Fair A Hit With Students

April 12, 2024 | 0 Comments

[Written by Patrick Bean]

Thursday’s Vocational Career Fair at CedarBridge Academy was an unmitigated success by all accounts, with hundreds of students able to connect with many local trade orientated business vendors and helping service providers.

Both the institution’s top floor and the gymnasium teemed with excitement and attentive observation as eager members of the student body engaged as many as 20 pop-up sites for a two hour period.

The event was designed to especially cater to pupils with learning challenges and others who may be more receptive to hands-on instruction and activities, placing emphasis on skilled trades.

A panel discussion commenced the proceedings, with participants offering advice and encouragement to students.

CedarBridge Vocational Career Fair Bermuda April 12 2024

“The fair has been really, really awesome,” said chief organizer Tanya Simmons, the school’s Instructional Leader of Learning Support. “The panel discussion was phenomenal, as the guests speakers were absolutely the right ones for the conversation, “The children were very engaged.

“We want children to be comfortable enough to say, ‘I have dyslexia and I learn differently, but I want to learn and be successful.’

“From what I heard it’s been very engaging. The vendors were very excited about the children, who asked thoughtful questions and have been receptive to acquiring information about things they didn’t know.

“We had a door decorating competition as well, where the advisors had to decorate based on a disability. And even the teachers remarked how they learned so much that they were unaware of about disabilities.

“So, I think we’ve accomplished our mission and our goal.”

Among the vendors reveling in being able to share accumulated knowledge was Alan Smith, a master electrician and former Department of Planning inspector. Youthful visitors to his table were able to use applicable tools, building materials, and mechanisms to construct would be electrical circuits in a safe, controlled environment.

“It was great to experience the enthusiasm of our young people,” said Smith, who owns and operates Current Code Electrical Services, which bears the moniker ‘The Electrical Detective.’ “Several of the young men were very serious about taking on electrical as a career and I explained to them that Bermuda is always going to need capably trained persons in the trade field, whether it be in new construction or repair and maintenance.

“As a country, we have to more diligently work with our young people, particularly males who are at great risk of falling through societal cracks, so that they can be better equipped and certified in the vital area of the skilled trades.

“The island has suffered a decline in these areas for years, since the irresponsible decision was made to close Bermuda Technical Institute that had been producing many of our top guys in plumbing, carpentry, electrical, and many of the vocational trades.”

For Rihanna Reddicks, the moments spent networking with work professionals was revealing as to the diverse career opportunities.

“I would say that this career fair was very eye-opening,” said Reddicks, a senior student with a primary focus on management science. “It teaches you that there is not just one type of learning disability.

“People think that you can only be dyslexic, ADHD, or autistic, but there are a lot more types of learning challenges.

“You could just simply be disorganized or have problems remembering things as a learning disability.

“So this has been a means of opening people’s eyes to a lot of things and I think this is a great way to become involved with the people in our school.

“Because the people in our school that have learning disabilities are often separated from everyone else, this allows you to get to know them more and be able to better relate and understand their challenges and how to help each other.”

For Dante Sousa, a prefect, the event offered the chance to identify summer employment possibilities, not to mention a chance to sample the free snacks on offer at some stations .

Sousa said, “The career fair has been good. It showed me a lot of the career opportunities and made pathways for summer internships and stuff like that. The best thing for me was the food.”

Among the service presenters were Brianna Ball-Roach and Rebecca Lawrence of Beyond Inclusion, which offers tailored programs and services for those with disabilities and/or mental health challenges.

Lawrence and Ball-Roach noted the importance of supportive programmes that can aid in the removal of debilitating negative stigmas so often affixed to those with alternative learning requirements.

“We did get some very great comments and one really great question as to how do we infuse more with supportive requirements into the wider community, so that the community becomes more accepting and inclusive of those with special needs, rather than try to make them fit into the model of what we think normal is,” said Lawrence and Ball-Roach, speaking in tandem. “Because it’s not about fitting in, it’s about everyone being more accepting, welcoming, and supportive.

“In saying that, the one student caused the others around him to note how they’d never thought of things that way and so provided a very eye-opening moment and opportunity to better understand some of the disabilities and cognitive deficiencies experienced by peers.”

Meanwhile, The Reading Clinic pop-up displayed pictures of various renowned celebrities and persons of prominence who had persevered in reaching the top of their professions.

Highlighted were the likes of Black Eyed Peas front man Will.I.am and multiple Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, who have ADHD, Maggie Aderin, a leading space scientist, who is dyslexic, and Satushi Tajiri, the creator of Pokemon, who is on the autism spectrum.

“This has been a great opportunity to share with students what we do at The Reading Clinic,” explained ICAN Math Programme Director Juliet [Etta] Pearman. “And one of the things that I’ve been focusing on is our display that highlights some very prominent people that have some type of learning disability.

“I’ve used this to encourage the students and let them know that, whatever challenges they have, they can overcome it and be successful in life.”

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