Aaron Giroux speaks at the annual Connect Event October 30

Advocacy makes a world of difference for youth

Aaron Giroux speaks at the annual Connect Event October 30

Having strong support at home can make all the difference for youth as they work to complete high school, especially for Aboriginal students. For Aaron Giroux, an Aboriginal student and recent high school graduate, having his mother advocate for him at school allowed him to access new opportunities and challenges that helped him finish.

Giroux spoke about his high school experience and the importance of having support at home at last week’s Connect event, which brought together elders and community leaders to discuss how to better support Aboriginal students. For Giroux, his classes weren’t challenging him, so he didn’t always attend.

“I was going to 50%, maybe less, of my classes and then I would show up for tests and get at least an 80%,” Giroux says.

Despite his low attendance, he had the ongoing support of his mother, who encouraged the school board to test his IQ. Thanks to this advocacy, the school board found his IQ was in the 98th percentile for his age and they were able to adjust his education.

“After I was tested, I was put into the G.A.T.E. program for Gifted and Talented Education,” Giroux says. “The teachers were able to go beyond the level I was at and actually challenge and stimulate me.”

Now Giroux is advocating for this Aboriginal friends and peers, asking them to think differently about their lives and challenge themselves.

“I would say to them that they need to really take a look at who they are and take a look at who they want to be and see if they’re taking the steps to become that.

The annual Connect Event is hosted by United Way’s UpStart and Aboriginal Youth and Education Strategy initiatives.

How important are adult advocates for youth as they work to complete school?