A Champion for building better youth programs in BC Schools

November 23, 2017

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 Speaking Rights and the 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 a Speaking Rights 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 Speaking Rights. 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 Acton 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 Speaking Rights, 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.