Grade 9 Cumberland Junior students gained a variety of skills, learnt about local grassroots organizations and obtained a $5,000 cheque for Lilli House thanks to a school project.
For the fifth year, Cumberland Grade 9 students participated in the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI), which sees students create presentations about local organizations in need of financial help. The group that presents the best case for their organization wins $5,000 for their charity from the Toskan Casale Foundation.
The group — Shaina Friedman, Spencer Freeman, Josh Guthrie and Kyla Kennelly — representing the Comox Valley Transition Society’s Lilli House won this year.
“It’s actually really hard to do this project because … you want to make it good and you want to win the grant for your charity,” said Kennelly, noting the competition was tough with 54 Cumberland students competing on 13 teams. “It’s a really good thing to do because you get a sense of ownership, like I’m trying to win something for my charity, I’m trying to give back to my community, so I learnt a lot.”
Grade 9 humanities teachers Jocelyn Schultz and Jina Taylor co-organized the project again this year. According to Schultz, students gain research and interview skills when gathering information about their organization, plus they learn group work skills, presentation skills and technical skills like putting together PowerPoint presentations.
Schultz noted the projects are stronger each year as students incorporate more and more variety into their presentations.
From videos, to skits, to dance, poetry and song, these presentations go far beyond PowerPoint slides and talking.
Students also gain a solid understanding about what grassroots organizations do in their community and why they’re important, she said.
“Some of them will keep in touch with their charities after,” continued Schultz. “We’re making youth philanthropists, which I think is an amazing role to play in these kids’ lives … It’s not just about the grade; it’s about the opportunity to give back to their community in some way.”
The majority of the school gathered in the gym to watch the final four presentations, chosen after an earlier round in the competition narrowing the list down from the original 13. The other three finalist groups represented Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North, the Comox Valley Head Injury Society and CASEY Comox Valley (Community Against Sexual Exploitation of Youth).
After handing the $5,000 cheque to the group presenting about Lilli House, YPI Vancouver Island representative Fiona MacInnes said she always enjoys watching the student presentations.
“I get uplifted every time I come and do this; it’s just so wonderful,” said MacInnes. “It’s a win-win-win; the kids win, the charities win and the schools win. And even though only one group gets the grant everybody wins. The kids come away with skills they didn’t have, they have an awareness of their community they didn’t have and the charities get young people to listen to them.”
For more information about YPI, visit www.goypi.org.