Community Papers

YKW helps teens reach new heights

Mission’s Breanna Longden is a Youth Keep Working participant, an employment program that helps barriered youth achieve life and job skills. - Submitted photo
Mission’s Breanna Longden is a Youth Keep Working participant, an employment program that helps barriered youth achieve life and job skills.
— image credit: Submitted photo

As Breanna Longden watched her peers making their way across the Bosun’s Steps she was sure she would never be able to do it.

They were 33 feet off the ground, crossing an open expanse on nothing more than a series of wooden slats suspended by rope.

Longden, who lives in Mission, was taking part in a team-building day at Camp Squeah in Hope, as part of Youth Keep Working (YKW), an Abbotsford-based employment program for youth with multiple barriers to employment.

The day included several activities that required the seven participants to challenge themselves individually and to work together as a team. The high ropes course proved to be the biggest challenge for Longden.

“It was way beyond my boundaries,” she recalls, but by the end of the day, she conquered the Bosun’s Steps and much more.

“Once I was up there, I didn’t want to disappoint myself or the others.”

YKW is offered through Agora Employment Essentials Inc. in Abbotsford, a company wholly owned by Mennonite Central Committee BC to deliver its employment programs, and provides life and employability skills training to youth, assisting to connect them with paid employment or return to school.

Program facilitator Cherie Lynn Wagar says experiences like the team-building day at Camp Squeah are essential to the program because of the confidence and trust that are built.

“This group becomes like a family,” she says, explaining that they are together six hours a day, five days a week, for 13 weeks.

“It’s important for the group to learn to trust each other, encourage each other and learn that they actually have the power to go beyond what they thought they could do.”

Activities teach them problem-solving, leadership and the ability to work with others.

YKW participants also learn how to write resumes, cover letters and conduct a job search.

To learn more about Youth Keep Working, visit or contact Cherie Lynn Wagar at 604 859-6790 ext 316 or email


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