School: John Taylor Collegiate
School Division: St. James Assiniboia School Division
Written by: Melanie Paragg, teacher, Grades 9 - 12
The students of John Taylor Collegiate have taken action to bring awareness to a variety of local and global social justice issues.
Locally, we have supported Siloam Mission, an organization that provides food and shelter to those in need. We joined together with our community middle school to stuff stockings that were distributed over the holiday season. Stockings contained personal hygiene supplies, holiday treats, and a new pair of wool socks to all those in need.
We also supported Winnipeg Harvest by collecting non-perishable food items.
This year, students also brought awareness to the Autism Society of Manitoba and all the services and support it provides to those living with autism and their families.
Globally, John Taylor took part in Free the Children’s We Create Change Campaign and donated approximately $1,400 to help provide clean water programming to those in need.
Currently, a workshop, movie night, and school overnighter are being planned to bring awareness to women’s rights and global injustices towards women, as well as educational rights.
We hold a variety of events throughout the year to help create awareness as well as bring in monetary support. We’ve held pizza lunches, bake sales, classroom penny drives, volunteering — through community outreach, gym blast fundraisers, a Valentine’s Day initiative, pie days, educational workshops, and whole school assemblies.
When I became a teacher nine years ago, I wanted to ensure that my students were made aware of the social injustices, both local and global, in our world. I wanted to help my students recognize the wonderful opportunities and freedoms they have been afforded in comparison to so many other children their age, and encourage them to take action to ensure that all individuals are granted basic human rights.
As a staff advisor for our school’s student council, I have been privileged to see the passion and the drive that students have in wanting to build a sustainable global society. Through the platform of the student council, students have the ability to speak openly and advocate for causes or issues they are passionate about. This year, my students took quite an interest in the Clean Water Initiative through the Free the Children.
Creating awareness has been fostered through educational workshops, fun and interactive whole school activities, single student campaigns, and activities within the classroom. As one student commented, "It’s amazing that one person can encourage others to get involved, and then you see the snowball effect that happens as more and more people get excited to help others and make a difference.
"It’s also nice to know that we can speak up for things that aren’t right in the world, and have support from other students and teachers at John Taylor."
Youth and teachers who participated in Free the Children’s We Day Manitoba are writing regularly about how they are taking action and supporting local and global causes through the organization’s We Schools in Action year-long program. For more information, visit www.weday.com