Pam Jansen has worked tirelessly to celebrate the accomplishments of River East Transcona School Division students.
The tables may very well turn on May 7.
That evening, Jansen will attend the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Awards Gala at the RBC Convention Centre, where she will be one of five nominees for the Education, Training, and Mentorship Award.
Nominators Stacy Boone and Jamie Michie described Jansen as "spurred by her love of inspiring growth within everyone in her community" and as someone who attempts to break down social barriers in her work with local youth.
In her six years as the RETSD’s community programming co-ordinator for youth, the River East resident has had a hand in starting up numerous innovative programs. Her self-esteem campaign, The Craftastics: Agents for Social Change, encouraged girls to create a superhero alter ego with a positive power to help others.
As well, she organizes Volunteen programs to connect students with skill-building volunteer opportunities, offers goddess retreats to empower female students in the division while also educating them about issues facing women worldwide, and making partnerships with other community organizations to help better RETSD pupils. She said she couldn’t accomplish much without a host of willing helpers, though.
"I couldn’t do half the stuff I do if people didn’t support (me) — if schools didn’t support, and we didn’t get funding from other funders," she said, adding this year has been particularly good for garnering community funding.
Jansen said she has noticed major change in some students as a result of the programming, including one Craftastics participant went from the shyest girl in the room to one of the group’s most vocal members. Jansen also noted three Volunteen participants were inspired to return to the division to help run girls’ club programs.
"You grow with them. Now they’re in third-year university, and you remember them when they were in middle school," she said.
She was able to accompany two students to the Unite and Ignite Conference in Ottawa in March, which brings together young people from across the country to discuss issues facing them, including approaches to mental health and bullying.
Recently, Jansen has organized family yoga nights, as she is a certified instructor, and with Lisa Aymont Hunter from the division’s Aboriginal Academic Achievement department, has started Aboriginal drumming classes for students.
"Sometimes I can think really huge, and that’s not always a good thing, so I need those people in my life," she said.
After working hard to give young women a hand up, Jansen will look to start more programs specifically for boys in the future in order to give them a chance to meet male role models in the community.