Teachers in the Tri-Cities School District of BC were struggling to find ways to engage their students in meaningful and engaging class and after-class programs. They heard about how what Equitas’ Community Action Projects approach did for the Engaged Immigrant Youth Program of the Vancouver School Board and it has inspired them to try it out this coming fall.
When Jennifer Reddy, an Engaged Immigrant Youth Coordinator at the Vancouver School Board (EIY-VSB) first participated in an Equitas Training she may not have known what an impact her use of the tools and approach would have. As she became an advocate for the approach it has spread throughout EIY-VSB and now all staff are trained in Equitas’ approach. Over 25 Settlement workers supporting Syrian refugees and newcomer families are also trained in the approach.
EIY-VSB has also opened up opportunities for newcomer youth to initiate Community Action Projects spanning volleyball tournaments coupled with learning about their rights and health; to community discussions on promoting a sense of belonging and countering gang recruitment; to most recently the development of a new “Fresh Start” magazine.
With increased tools and knowledge, and an easy to use framework for integrating activities provided by Equitas, staff were able to create safe, supportive spaces, for newcomer youth to express themselves and engage with their peers and the wider community on issues affecting their ability to participate in schools and communities. Staff share that the approach engages, motivates, and empowers newcomer and immigrant students to not only actively and regularly participate, but also to become mentors for their peers and inspiring leaders themselves.
The results of these activities serve as resources for the wider district whereby youth are called upon to share their experiences either in-person or on the VSB website so that educators, peers, and community members alike can learn from the leadership and work of these youth and educators.