By Andrea Yeo, Seycove Secondary Teacher
Seycove Secondary’s Social Justice 12 is a course that teaches students they are never too young to make a difference in the world. After learning about various perspectives relating to different social justice issues such as poverty, homelessness, racism, sexism, homophobia, reconciliation, and also studying human rights and analysing the cycle of socialization, students then choose a project they are passionate about to bring about change for a cause.
It is amazing to see these students tackle their projects. Students report that it does not feel like work because they are genuinely inspired by their projects and their cause, and the growth they see in themselves. It is inspiring, particularly during these COVID-19 times, to see students who are motivated and driven to spread positivity in their school, and local and global communities.
Below is a sample of some of the final action plan projects that Seycove’s Social Justice 12 students have produced. This blog post is part one of a two-part series.
Personal Protective Equipment for Youth in Need
Saege Bramley and Samantha Yuen
Through their Social Justice 12 course, Saege and Samantha learned how important it is to help those in need in any way they can. They collected and donated a large supply of personal protection equipment to a youth crisis centre in Vancouver. They have a greater understanding on how important supporting your communities are and that helping each other is one of the best things to do.
“We feel it’s important to spread the word about mental health especially with youth, and that our district should know about this serious issue.” Focusing on personal protective equipment for youth in need was a very appropriate action plan since everyone, in some shape or form, is dealing with the insecurities of the COVID-19 pandemic. “No one should feel scared and unprepared to walk down the street or go to the store during the pandemic, which is why we focused on supporting youth struggling with poverty.”
Saege and Samantha have since initiated the renewal of Seycove's Mental Health Club. Through the club they anticipate further education to their community by installing posters around the campus as well as hosting events that are beneficial for your mental health like walking or yoga.
Mental Health in Youth
Lily O’Dea’s action plan focussed on the topic of mental health in youth. As someone who has struggled with mental health, she wanted “to bring light and love” to her peers who are fighting their own battles.
She partnered with her elementary school, Cove Cliff, where she founded a running club for students in grades 5-7. Once a week, Lily meets with the students to run, walk or jog. This also provides a safe and welcoming space for students to share what is happening in their lives. Lily’s teacher Andrea Yeo is so inspired by her project that she has encouraged Lily to share her work with the other Seycove teachers and staff, which is something Lily is excited to do.
“How can a 16-year old from Deep Cove make a difference in the world?” – Maggie McCarron
Maggie created a fundraiser for the organization WarChild. Her goals included spreading awareness about child soldiers and children affected by war and raising enough money to help a child.
Maggie started a GoFundMe page and raised $500 for WarChild, and in the process, learned she could make a difference. To learn more, visit www.WarChild.ca.
Hike for a Bike
Jordyn Eyton and Sage Cable
After learning about poverty in developing countries and how important education is in breaking the cycle of poverty, Jordyn and Sage focussed their action plan on the human right to education and created a fundraiser, Hike for a Bike.
After researching the issue, they focused their efforts on raising funds for World Bicycle Relief (WBR). Their goal was to raise $600; the money would be used to purchase three bikes for girls in impoverished communities so they would have transportation to attend school.
Sage and Jordyn found inspiration by connecting with four local community members who volunteer with WBR and who taught Jordyn and Sage “every little effort makes a big difference.”
“We learned how to execute an amazing project, organized a powerful presentation and used social media to raise awareness about the impact of education on girls in impoverished communities. We raised $1,640—almost three times our original goal--through our GoFundMe page! The ripple effect of our project is immense, and we feel fulfilled with the outcome.”
Equal Access to Sports
Izzy Leonard is passionate about equal access to sports. She used her action plan YouCANPlay to encourage others to focus on an athlete’s abilities versus sexual orientation and gender, with the goal of reducing locker room homophobia and transphobia.
Take a look at the video Izzy produced, which includes students and staff from Seycove Secondary sharing messages of respect and support for one another, “If you can play, you can play.”
Over the four years Taylor Dalton has been a Seycove student, she has noticed the walls of the women’s washroom being filled with graffiti. “To some, graffiti is perceived as bad and rebellious, but to others, it is a form of self-expression,” Taylor explains.
At Seycove, Taylor determined the graffiti primarily consisted of positive comments or was used to seek or share support. “I realized students needed a specific place to share how they were feeling and reach out for support.” Finding inspiration in this, Taylor came up with a plan to turn the “bad” graffiti into something useful for fellow students. She installed multiple black poster boards with chalk in the women’s washrooms and encouraged students to use the space for an outlet.
“At the end of the first day, the posters were completely full. This continued happening each day of the week. The posters were full of inspiring messages and people sharing their struggles and support for one another. There were drawings and other creative pieces, turning the entire board into a piece of art,” Taylor shared.
With the support of the school principal, Mr. Rob McLeod, a board has been installed as a permanent piece. “I believe this board will help build community, and I hope more boards are permanently installed at Seycove and at schools across the District.”