Youth Fusion is an award-winning, non-partisan charity that establishes innovative partnerships between high schools and universities, in an effort to counter high school dropout rates, by creating and implementing projects that engage youth and keep them interested in school.
Each year, a McGill student interns with Youth Fusion by working in a local high school. For more information on Youth Fusion, please visit their website. Youth Fusion also offers internship opportunities in the James Bay Cree nation.
To see a list of the opportunities available, visit their Job Offers page.
To learn more about Youth Fusion's projects, download their Projects Realized in Collaboration with McGill University [.pdf] and their Northern Quebec Programs [.pdf].
Youth Fusion Interns
Taylor Rusnak graduated from McGill University in 2012 with a BA in Political Science and Anthropology. She will be interning at Youth Fusion as the coordinating body for the Leadership and Healthy Living project at Waapihtiiwewan school in Oujé-Bougoumou.
Astrid Peacock graduated from McGill University in 2011 with a BA in Philosophy and French Language and Literature. Although she intends to attend medical school and one day work with an international health organization such as Médecins Sans Frontières, Astrid is currently living in the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi in Northern Quebec, where she is a Leadership Project Coordinator for Youth Fusion.
In keeping with the objectives of Youth Fusion, Astrid organizes and implements innovative in-class and extracurricular programs in an effort to engage youth and counter high school dropout rates at Willie J. Happyjack Memorial School. In addition to coordinating the high school student council, Astrid coaches numerous sports teams, holds weekly healthy cooking classes and leads karate lessons. At the moment, the greatest thrill for Astrid comes from watching as the newly-elected student council members take initiative in their school and greater community. Astrid is extremely proud to be working with the future leaders of Waswanipi and beyond.
Annik Babinski graduated from McGill University in 2010 with a BA in Cultural Studies and Communications. She spent the first ten months after graduation in Waswanipi, a Cree Nation in the James Bay region of Quebec, working as a Media Project Coordinator for Youth Fusion. Youth Fusion aims to engage youth with innovative projects in an effort to counter high school dropout rates. At Willie J. Happyjack Memorial, Annik coordinated a high school radio show, a student newspaper and a weekly photo club. As a young professional, Annik was empowered by the opportunity to inspire students with the knowledge she'd cultivated while working towards her BA.
To view the students work, go to: www.artistsofwaswanipi.blogspot.com
To read a report of Annik's internship experience: Annik_Babinski_Youth_Fusion [.pdf]
My name is Joey Feith and I graduated from McGill in 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education (PE). Upon graduation, I founded and created a Web resource for Physical Education teachers. The website provided me with great networking opportunities and I suddenly found myself being exposed to incredible ideas involving the use of technology in Physical Education pedagogy. With this newfound interest in technology, I decided to go back to school to attain a master’s degree while researching the application of technology in PE pedagogy.
Those who know me are aware of the fact that I am extremely passionate about Physical Education and that I am always looking to expand new experiences as a PE professional – be it working as an adapted aquatics teaching assistant at the Mackay Center School; teaching students diagnosed with ADHD as part of a service-learning program at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute; leading outdoor physical activity group sessions for my community back home; or teaching myself how to design a website to help promote excellence in the Physical Education profession.
So when my brother spoke to me about Youth Fusion’s high school programs and explained that, among other things, they focused their efforts on physical activities, I immediately wanted to apply and join the team.
Youth Fusion is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help lower the atrocious dropout rates in Quebec schools. Their formula is quite innovative: they sends university students, working as project coordinators, into high schools to implement projects that motivate teenagers to stay in school, and strengthen their school spirit and sense of belonging.
After being hired by Youth Fusion, I was offered the opportunity to work at James Lyng High School as the Sports Program Coordinator. I started last September and my role is to create different sports-related projects that motivate students to get physically active and inspire them to continue with their studies.
At Youth Fusion, coordinators are asked to come up with ‘action plans’ to get things going; however, the kids get to – ultimately – decide what it is that they want to see in their school. So when I first arrived at James Lyng, I came in with a Sports Council project that I felt would really get a lot of attention from the students. It didn’t. Then I created a Fitness Program that would surely get a lot of students to sign up for. It didn’t.
Not one to be easily discouraged, I started reflecting on why things just weren’t going as planned. And I thought of Youth Fusion’s mandate: that students must be involved in all the steps of the decision-making processes, from choosing the activities to interviewing the project coordinators for the job (that’s right, I was interviewed by 2 kids, the principal, the vice-principal and the guidance counselor!).
My first impulse was to get known amongst the student body in order to develop a trusting relationship with the kids. (I wasn’t their teacher, I wasn’t someone they saw every day; I was just some new guy who kept throwing projects at them). So I decided to start over again, but this time I focused on building a rapport with the students first and getting them to sign up to the projects second. I started going to the basketball team’s practices and helping out there. I spent more time talking with students in the halls during recess. Basically, I was getting to know the students and they were getting to know me as well.
Things have already been progressing. I now train students once a week and have received registration forms for a “So You Think You Can Dance” activity that I will be organizing. I look forward to providing even more activities for the students at James Lyng, and look forward to getting to know each of them better in the coming months.
My hopes are that this internship will provide me with a better idea of what drives a student to drop out of school and what can be done to counter that – especially through sports. I’m also looking forward to learning more about how to set up and manage in-school physical activity programs and how to make them successful (i.e. high participation and student enjoyment rates).
I’d like to thank McGill University for funding these internships that set the stage for a mutually beneficial exchange. Kids in disadvantaged schools get a chance to be involved in compelling activities, and university students gain real-world, career-related experience to complement their studies and apply what they learn in class.
Joey has been busy promoting physical activity programs. For an update on these, particularly his involvement with the school's basketball team, please click here.
Martin Calisto, a U3 International Development Studies and Political Science student, is turning his interest in education towards initiatives that will improve the experience of high school students in Montreal.
Calisto began working as a project coordinator at Polyvalente Jean-Louis-Papineau through Youth Fusion, a program dedicated to improving the experience of high school students. Since the fall of 2009, he has been working to create new initiatives to engage students. These include organizing talent shows, art expositions, and a school-wide music video, as well as founding a debate club. For Calisto, the highlight of these efforts is seeing improved attendance as well as students starting “to pay much greater attention to their education.” He also works as a tutor for students struggling in certain classes.
In addition, Calisto is coordinating visits to McGill as well as other Montreal universities to underline the importance of education, and establishing links within the school to Oxfam’s initiatives to reduce poverty and inequality. In his own words, “this is an extraordinary internship that gives me a great opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of hundreds of high school students.”
This is McGill’s first internship with Youth Fusion. The program places students in paid positions as project coordinators in Montreal-area schools for 15 hours in each of the school year’s 36 weeks.