Through their research and powerful presentation skills, a group of Grade 10 students was awarded $5000 to donate to a local charity last week. The award was part of a program headed by the Toskan Foundation, which assists charities across Canada and educates students about becoming involved with their community. As part of the program, students work in groups to develop and give a presentation on their chosen charity. The Toskan Foundation then awards $5000 to one group based on the quality of the students’ presentation and the financial need of the charity. The program was introduced at SMUS last year, when Director of Service Mr. Kevin Cook hosted a small pilot project that involved forty Grade 10 students.
This year, the program expanded and became an invaluable part of the Grade 10 curriculum. Students from the Planning 10 classes formed 40 groups in total. In class, the students were introduced to the concept of community service, and the range of charities in the Victoria area. Focused on helping charities that serve people, the students researched organizations by making phone calls and on-site visits to decide which charity they would represent.
Through student voting in the classrooms and a round of semi-finals, three charities ended up in the final deliberations: Women’s Transition House, Community Living Victoria, and Power to Be, all worthy local grassroots organizations. Judges at the finals were made up of community members, including City of Victoria Councillor Chris Coleman, and SMUS students connected with the Victoria Foundation, another programme at SMUS that focuses on funding grants to local charities.
Choosing from the three strong presentations was a tough decision, but the group championing Power to Be came out on top. Benji Schaan, Kelly Twa, Guiliana Bianco, and Genna Purcell accepted a large cheque for $5000 written out to the Power To Be organization, which supports experiential learning for youth with disabilities and youth at risk.
Mr. Cook really values the learning experience involved with community service, and the importance of having a programme like this embedded into the curriculum. “Any service is good, but when you can tie it back into the curriculum, it makes the students remember their experience that much more.” Mr. Cook is very happy with the results of the programme and it will continue on for many years, as it has demonstrated an astounding ability to inspire community involvement and awareness in our students.