A program like Northern Youth Abroad may at first seem like an opportunity only for those who excel in class or are already on a solid track, but organizers especially encourage youth who may be struggling a bit more to apply.

“If there are youth … that maybe aren’t attending or aren’t attending very much, (it can be) a bit of a pushback into school,” said Nick Pelletier, program officer for NYA.

Running for more than 20 years, the program provides youth aged 15 to 20 an opportunity to develop personal and career skills and give them a chance to travel the country.

During the winters, participants work on projects at home, before spending a large portion of the summer holiday down south in a work placement program.

“It’s really a program designed for youth that may be interested in pursuing new opportunities, gaining a little bit of independence or trying to get back into school (and) re-engage with postsecondary,” said Pelletier.

“They get travel experience, they get to meet with youth from all across the North and really it’s a time to explore new options.”

Graduates of that program can also have the opportunity to join the international program, where they find placement in a developing country, or NYA Next, which stations participants at Algonquin College in Ottawa for the summer.

Fort McPherson’s Jayme Nerysoo, 20, participated in NYA Next this past summer. She took part in a construction course for four weeks, volunteered, participated in a mock trial and attended regular programs on science and other subjects.

“It was good,” said Nerysoo. “It was something different. It made me come out of my comfort zone, because it’s a lot of speaking and meeting a lot of new people that you don’t know.”

She enjoyed spending time with other people from the NWT and Nunavut.

“We became one big family, sharing a lot of memories and experiences with them,” she said.

Nerysoo isn’t yet sure what career path she’d like to follow, but the construction program piqued her interest.

Applications have opened this year for the start of the next program, with a deadline of mid-November. About 40 youth from the NWT and Nunavut will take part in the 2018 program. Youth can also get help applying from their teachers or principals.

Nerysoo thinks it’s an opportunity worth taking.

“You won’t regret it,” she said.

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