2015 Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability
The following eight schools have been recognized out of over 50 school action projects to receive the Learning for a Sustainable Future Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability. Hartley Bay was awarded first place, two schools were recognized as Runner-Ups and five schools were given Honourable Mentions. Check out the amazing and innovative projects these schools have done by reading the summaries below. Thank you to everyone who participated! All of your projects were outstanding! We look forward to seeing your submissions next year!
Hartley Bay School
The winning school this year is Hartley Bay School from Hartley Bay, British Columbia. Their project features a unique and fun method in responding to community challenges in regards to healthy, sustainable and environmental choices. Congratulations!
Students at Hartley Bay School had set out into Gitga’at Territory where they collected baseline data about their local environment, specifically in Malsey Bay (Lu lax kyook). Students have enhanced their traditional knowledge through interaction with elders about the historical significance of Lu lax Kyook to the Gitga’at nation. This project was done in conjunction with the Gitga’at Guardian program and was supported by the Band Council and Office. The students will be giving a presentation on their findings for the entire school in June. The students talking about their experiences and with the coordination with the Band Council and the Gitga’at Guardians, greatly impacted the community. From their action project, they were able to help their community understand the impact of familiarizing with one’s own territory and how this can help build a better capacity to plan for future generations.
Evergreen Heights Education Centre
Students from Evergreen Heights Education Centre, located in Emsdale, Ontario, created their very own used store called “Change The Label’s Hip Threads.” With start-up funds provided by Learning for a Sustainable Future, students celebrated the store’s grand opening following extensive planning, which included store organization, data and money collection system implementation, making environmentally-friendly laundry soap, holding clothing collections, sorting and washing clothes, and hosting a school assembly espousing environmental, social and economic benefits of reusing clothes. "Hip Threads" came to life every Thursday in the school's main foyer where clothing donations were stored in the unused lockers. Moreover, a highly popular school fashion show and other marketing initiatives promoted the store. Clothing was sold by donation and was made available free of charge as needed. All store proceeds were subsequently donated to Free the Children's "We Create Change," where $50 would be used to buy a goat which would help assist a family in a developing country.
Windermere Secondary School
Students from Windermere Secondary School from Vancouver, British Columbia worked with one another in meaningful ways in order to expand their knowledge and experience on the issues surrounding climate change. One of their major projects that was ongoing was their 7th annual Climate Change Conference (C3), put together by the Grade 11 Leadership class, which brought students from across Vancouver together where students participated in presentations, workshops, and community action. The conference regularly attracts over 300 students from as far away as Kelowna and Vancouver Island and has also been acknowledged by the Member of Parliament, Don Davies, in the House of Commons. Another large event organized by the leadership students was the Earth Day Parade and Celebration. Last year, it included the closure of Commercial Drive, a major street in Vancouver, and the access to a park for the celebration. Through these events, the leadership students from Windermere learned what it means to be a part of a community support network that prioritizes social responsibility, community engagement and environmental stewardship. It is through diverse experiences in their school and community that the Windermere students learned how to be active citizens.
The students from Bready School, North Battleford, Saskatchewan have incorporated a composting initiative within their school. By collecting and composting discarded foods, their school will use the compost for fertilizer in their outdoor garden. This initiative was student-led and year-round with guidance from a staff member volunteer. Every student/staff member was responsible for throwing their discarded food into “compost only” garbage-like pails. After lunch, three Green Club members, a leader and two learners collected and dumped all organic waste into a larger bin. This bin is easily pushed through the hallways using a cart. Once the students are done, they weighed the waste and documented it. The students then brought the waste to the outdoor compost bin. In the spring, they hope to use their compost for fertilizer in their outdoor garden.
Brookside Public School
This year Grade 8 Brookside Public School students from Toronto, Ontario, participated in the WaterDocs@School program. They took a close look at local water issues, brainstormed and implemented innovative and creative ways to raise awareness and engage their community in water conservation measures. First, they began collecting data to assess their community’s awareness of certain issues and the frequency of specific behaviours. Their project managed to reach teachers, students, parents, those who attended their winter concerts or read any of their newsletters, family and friends who liked, followed, and reposted their social media posts, and the 100,000 readers in a wide radius of eastern Ontario who read the Tamil newspaper that published their article. They screened their documentaries at their own Brookside WaterDocs festival and was recognized as Best Student Action Project. Educating themselves, sharing this information with their community, and encouraging everyone to engage in these small and doable water conservation measures allowed them to protect their very valuable watershed whilst building the awareness that they can affect environmental change in themselves, their schools and in their community.
Rama Central Public School
Students from Rama Central School, located in Washago, Ontario, have taken great pride in their sustainable living and outreach initiatives. They ran a student-led recycling and composting program, promoted energy and waste reduction, created a pollination garden, are currently fundraising for an outdoor classroom, will soon have solar panels on the school’s roof (a board initiative), and have engaged in student-led campaigns to benefit organizations such as WWF Canada, the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Center and local wildlife rehabilitation centres. They have used Step Outside guides to help students build awareness and appreciation of their schoolyard’s natural environment. This is the second year they have assisted local wildlife rehabilitation centres in fall food gathering to sustain orphaned and injured animals that are overwhelming them. Moreover, students have demonstrated leadership qualities in the promotion and organization of this year’s school food drive. Students and staff were given the opportunity to help nourish individual animals and, in doing so, helped sustain biodiversity by gathering items from nature that were accessible near their homes. Furthermore, the food drive provided a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn curriculum in a real world context and for a real purpose.
Regional Alternative Education Centre
Students and staff from Regional Alternative Education centre from Altona, Manitoba, worked together to plan the types of vegetation that they could start planting in containers and could grow indoors. The vegetation would eventually be placed outdoors in May, which can help make foods like salads for the students. When the school year comes to a close, they will replace lettuces with strawberry plants so that the pots will be a permanent strawberry “patch”. Since the school values intergenerational relationship and learning, the school was able to create opportunities for generational and cultural understandings for students. For instance, the youth partnered with adult learns from various cultural backgrounds, including those who have recently immigrated to Canada and joined the school to learn more about what can be grown in Manitoba gardens. The school placed their containers near the playground area that was accessed by the children of their on-site daycare center where these youngsters became more curious and excited in knowing more about the garden project. The planning and planting pots together within the school and community created intercultural and intergenerational collaboration. Surplus produced would then be shared with the local food bank or be given to those who are struggling financially.
Tecumseh Public School
Students from Tecumseh Public School from Burlington, Ontario conducted an inquiry project called “Plant Wars” where they planted invasive species and native species in the same pot to observe what would happen when the plans interact with one another. To do this project, they made posters to get their classes interested. They then contacted a local expert who they met at an Eco-Schools event and asked them to bring them some invasive and native plants. The students planted them all in the same pot and took care of them all winter. Around March and April, they noticed that the garlic mustard was taking over the other plants. The students believed that this was because the garlic mustard’s large leaves blocked the other plants from the sun. The students also noticed that there were a lot of baby sprouts growing, which made the garlic mustard bigger than the native species and that the garlic mustard produced a toxin that affected the other native plants from growing. From this inquiry, the students hypothesized that the garlic mustard could potentially kill other important plants like apple trees and flowers and learned that this can create a domino affect within the ecosystem. Ultimately the students learned that in order to protect biodiversity, they needed to get rid of invasive plants and protect native plants.
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