FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A job shadow program for middle school students in Fort Wayne offers more than a job shadowing experience — it also helps kids with life coaching.

“How can we tell them where to go if we can’t help them out with where they’re at?”

That’s the question posed by Jonathon Wattley, president and CEO of Shadow for Success. An employee at Steel Dynamics with a passion for youth, Wattley started the program to help students develop self-confidence as they plan for their futures.

One of the students who participates is 16-year-old Tyrikka Bailey.

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Dr. Ben Clinkenbeard provides job shadowing experience for 16-year old Tyrikka Bailey.

“I’m choosing between a dental hygienist and a dentist,” said Bailey, who recently shadowed Fort Wayne dentist Dr. Benjamin Clinkenbeard. “Shadow for Success allows me to open up the doors to youth to come into my office,” said Clinkenbeard. “They have the opportunity to ask questions of me to find out if maybe we can open up the door for their career path later on.”

“When I come here to shadow it’s actually helping me,” said Bailey. “Instead of being the one getting the checkup, I’m the one seeing how it’s all done.”

While shadowing is a major part of the program, it’s what happens before kids shadow that makes Shadow for Success unique.

“We have these workshops where they help us get rid of shyness or depression,” said Bailey.

“Our approach is different because our workshops are designed to hit them right where they are living at right now,” said Wattley. “We get to the shadow portion after we’ve addressed some of the issues. Our workshops are dealing with anxiety, depression, suicide, life skills, self-esteem and bullying. I’m fortunate enough to have made contacts with licensed and qualified professionals that help support my vision. Each of our workshops is taught by a licensed professional in their field of expertise.”

Shadow for Success holds the workshops at the Fort Wayne Boys and Girls Clubs and three Fort Wayne middle schools, partnering with licensed life coach counselors and educators.

“We’re now in Lane, Kekionga and Lakeside Middle Schools,” said Bailey. “We’ve got 10 weeks. We try to have three or four sessions a year.”

The next session begins April 21st. There is no cost for kids 12 to 18. The program is funded through corporate sponsors and private donors.

“Get them on a solid foundation with self-esteem and how they feel about themselves then we can walk forward with okay, what do you want to be,” said Wattley. “Whatever career you want we’ll go out and find a professional who’s willing to let you shadow them to see if it’s something you want to pursue after high school.”

“It’s self-encouragement for young kids,” said Bailey. “If you don’t know what to do just keep looking at everything in the world because one day you’ll find what you want to learn.”

For more information about Shadow for Success, visit its website or call (260) 797-5892.