How the trades saved a young man’s life

Finding his passion for the skilled trades helped Jordan Ryan leave his troubled past behind him and improved his mental health.

At 13, Jordan Ryan’s life began falling apart. His mother had been laid off from her job in Vancouver and couldn’t afford to make ends meet while supporting Jordan and his sister. Seeing her stressing about being able to pay rent and bills as a single mother prompted his move to Kelowna to live with his father. But his father was also suffering, from debilitating cancer and a severe drug addiction. Jordan was overwhelmed.

“Every night when I went to sleep, I lay down in silence and thought about my day and my life,” said Jordan. “I couldn’t deal with the truths in my life, like knowing my father may not live much longer and that he didn't seem to care, so I started smoking weed every night before bed to stop thinking about it.”

Using marijuana once at night turned into using it every day, and he became addicted. He developed other unhealthy habits and became obese. 

“It was a physical manifestation of my poor mental health. Every time I saw my reflection, I was reminded of the hole I had dug myself into,” recalled Jordan. “I became friends with two older guys involved in organized crime who have since passed away from suicide and drug overdose. I believe that’s where my life was heading.”

When he was 16, Jordan considered dropping out of school. But then he learned about the Industry Training Authority (ITA) Youth Train in Trades dual credit program at his school. Dual credit programs allow students to get a head start on a career while earning both high school and post-secondary credits.

Jordan was interested in the carpentry and welding programs, so he registered for the course. “That program kept me going to school every day. It gave me the confidence to enter the workforce with valuable training at the age of 18.”

Finding his passion for the skilled trades enabled Jordan to leave his troubled past behind him and improved his mental health. 

“Encouraged by those around me, I carried on with welding to obtain my Red Seal journeyman status at age 21,” said Jordan. “The certification not only afforded me many job opportunities, but it also allowed me to focus on myself physically, mentally, and financially. I found ways through recreational powerlifting, natural bodybuilding, and personal training to become mentally stronger. I enjoy my life, spending time with my supportive girlfriend, and the hobbies I’ve found in bettering my overall mental health and fitness.”

Jordan tells youth they need to work hard to stay on a positive journey. “Work hard for the things you want, and never stop learning about the things you care about.”

Mental Health Week is May 4-10.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, there are resources available to help:

  • Canadian Mental Health Association - They offer practical advice, articles, and information. Visit mentalhealthweek.ca/yourmentalhealth.
  • Mental health crisis line - This line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Dial 310-6789 (toll-free anywhere in B.C., no need to dial an area code). 
  • Here2Talk - This service offers confidential, free mental health counselling post-secondary students in B.C. through an app, phone, or online chat and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit here2talk.ca, download the app, or call 1-877 857-3397 (toll-free in B.C.).
  • HeretoHelp - This website has information and resources to manage mental health and substance use problems. Visit heretohelp.bc.ca.
Want to start your career in the skilled trades?

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The Champions of Apprenticeship are recognized for their outstanding achievements in BC apprenticeship system. These Champions are celebrated for their hard work in creating certified tradesworkers, supporting their industry and promoting apprenticeship. Do you know an outstanding employer sponsor or apprentice? Send us an email and nominate them to become a Champion of Apprenticeship!

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