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Contest Maintains Motivation

When a pandemic interrupts your job search, it’s safe to say that you’re living in extraordinary times. Trying to stay motivated when you are isolated during a time like this can be a challenge. Communitas employment specialists, Tamara Seebaran Paul McCracken, and Stacey Murdoch (pictured above) realized that the people they serve were going to be experiencing these extraordinary times for quite a while. So, they borrowed a unique idea that came from their colleagues at Chilliwack Society for Community Living: a contest that would help motivate the people they serve.

“The contest was designed to keep participants engaged during this time of isolation,” Stacey explains. “It helped them set daily goals and stay accountable.”

Participants were invited to consider a list of tasks, each of which was assigned a number of points. Some of the tasks were focused on personal growth – trying a new recipe, doing 30 minutes of exercise, or reading for 10 minutes. Other tasks focused on ways to stay connected, encouraging participants to call a friend or family member once a week. And since the participants are part of an employment program, some of the tasks focused on job search skills like researching a potential employer or finding a video that demonstrated good interview techniques.

John enjoyed trying out new, healthy recipes

Over the four weeks of the contest, the group met weekly over Zoom to discuss the activities and share their unique experiences. There were also opportunities for participants to connect individually with their employment specialist and discuss the activities or talk about their job-related goals.

“We were surprised by the level of engagement (in the Zoom meetings) especially since some people have a difficult time in social contexts,” Tamara observes.

Paul agrees, adding that they were also encouraged by the ability of participants to step out of their comfort zone to learn a new skill like accessing the online meeting platform.

They were really motivated by the contest and by the need to stay connected. – Paul McCracken, employment specialist

Along with the weekly online meetings, participants shared photos of their experiences. They also discovered things about themselves.

Gerene was one of the runners up and says that her highlight was going for walks. She appreciated that the contest gave her things to do.

“I will continue to do the activities as I like them and it keeps me busy,” she says.

Gerene has been enjoyng the garden during this time of isolation

Marlene, another runner up, also enjoyed the physical activities and appreciated the encouragement to talk with relatives. She will continue to do both of these things but discovered that another task had an even greater impact on her.

One of Marlene’s highlights was being outdoors. This photo was taken on a walk at Mill Lake in Abbotsford.

“I found that having a ‘phone-free night’ helped me be a better version of myself,” she says.

The winner, Kaitlyne, also says that the contest had a big impact on her life. She tried a great variety of tasks and found that she enjoyed cooking the most because it was a way for her to be independent.

Kaitlyne holds up her gift certificate – the prize for winning this contest

“The contest really challenged me to better myself,” she says.

As the winner, Kaitlyne receives a large pizza delivered to her door. The runners up will receive Tim Hortons gift cards. In the end, everyone who participated benefitted by setting goals and staying connected.

“It really highlighted how important it is to be socially connected at this difficult time,” Stacey says. “We’re really proud of all of our individuals for being committed to the process and working at improving themselves even in the midst of COVID.”

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