Ron Jorgenson is a contributor to the successes of the ET/CL program and is an expert with FAS and other developmental challenges. His focus is primarily on young adults and counselling, and he also contributes by helping advise the program's administrators on mental challenges and troubled backgrounds. Ron sums up his role in the program by revealing, “Before the present director was there, we were trying to expand the program's awareness of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), within as well as beyond the school system in providing training that would carry over into the community. We were also looking for ways to provide training for people who were enrolled at the college and so we tried to help set up and establish a program that would provide that training.” Ron's expertise helped Ms. Chambers, Mark, Kateri and John work out and strategize around the issues in the earlier years of the program, when the program was new and was still being explored as a general formula for working with youth with FASD and other developmental challenges. Ron sees his support to the program as being similar as to what it was like for people learning to make smaller and smaller computers, then someone suddenly making transistors available when vacuum tubes were standard. Ron sums up his initial thought s as, "Initially, I was excited about it, because I saw it as an opportunity for a lot of young people. I was excited because I saw the college looking at doing something a little different for young people involving more hands-on type of work. I was disappointed that there wasn't more of a recognition of the kinds of supports that needed to be in place. In the initial stages, as people were coming into it, the importance and roles of mentors became apparent. The fact became apparent that a lot of things that impeded the student’s ability to learn needed to be addressed, not only in the actual learning environment itself, but also in their personal lives outside the classroom."
Developmental and personal challenges were always at the forefront of the issues the program has faced, alongside funding, in severity. The program has always been helping people with their challenges first, building and construction second. "It's been interesting to watch ET/CL grow, because it's also watching the people in the program grow. I've seen that people are becoming increasingly aware of the needs of the students in the program and what they need in order to be successful as they go through the process of working with the students’. This has led to adults and instructors adjusting the material and themselves to young people rather than an expectation that the young people would change for them. I believe very strongly you have to build a good environment in order to make them comfortable and safe with the learning process. My disappointment is that this close mentorship doesn't carry on past the program."
As one of the founders of the program and one of those instrumental to its success, Ron believes in the changes the program can make in the individuals that go through it, and sums up his thoughts by revealing, "Unquestionably it's a valuable program. One of the things I know from my own experience is if you can't contribute something positive, you end up contributing in some other, often negative, way. Negative behaviors which go unaddressed are going to be problematic. I think this program gives the students purpose, gives them hope, a feeling of safety and from that the ability to make a contribution, and these are all things that can be real assets, not only to the students but to our community as a whole."
The opinions expressed within this blog and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of North Island College (NIC) or Alberni.ca.. NIC or Alberni.ca are not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by this blogger.