2018 Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability
The following seven schools have been recognized out of over 60 school action projects to receive the 2018 Learning for a Sustainable Future Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability. Kortright Hills Public School was awarded first place, two schools were recognized as Runner-Ups and four schools was given an Honourable Mention. Check out the amazing and innovative projects these schools have done by reading the summaries below. Thank you to everyone who participated. All of your projects were outstanding, and we look forward to seeing your submissions next year!
Kortright Hill Public School
The winning school this year is Kortright Hills Public School from Guelph, ON. Inspired after attending LSF’s EcoLeague Youth Forum, the Eco Leaders Club and the grade 6 "The Water Rockers" class (where students learn most of their subjects through the topic of water) challenged their school to try a vegan diet and to become waste-free. With the help of a graduate student from the University of Guelph they created a campaign to teach all of their junior and intermediate classes about vegan eating, what it looks like, and why some believe it’s a healthy idea for both people and the planet. Students organized the school’s first ever vegan bake sale and donated the proceeds to a local wildlife charity. To reduce waste at the school, they challenged their staff and students to have waste-free snacks and lunches every Wednesday and use reusable water bottles on a daily basis. They switched classroom garbage bags to smaller compostable bags; trained staff and students about appropriate sorting and weighed and graphed the school’s garbage and recorded it on the chart paper to show everyone their progress.
Kortright Hills students also engaged in a variety of water-related action projects including: researching local native and invasive species in their local watershed; partnering with a professional songwriter to write an original song about the Eramosa and Speed Rivers; organizing a school assembly celebrating water; and creating a class blog about the Grand River watershed.
They also designed and planned a pollinator garden to achieve their goal of becoming a Bee School. Students planted native pollinator species and increased awareness through an education campaign about pollinators, why they are important to our planet, why they are struggling, and how we can help them at both home and school. They organized a Bee Celebration Assembly and gathered a group of student to submit an application for the City of Guelph to become an official Bee City!
Morinville Public School
Grade 7-9 students at Morinville Public School in Morinville, AB began their garden initiative with three hydroponic gardens that allow them to garden all year long! In order to inspire other students to grow their own food and have access to healthy produce, the students designed and planted an outdoor garden accessible to the entire community! Students planted corn, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. They did taste tests to see the difference between locally grown produce and what is sold in the stores. They got their peers excited about healthier eating and working together as a community for a common purpose. In the fall the produce will be donated to the local food bank. They hope that their outdoor garden will inspire other families to grow their own gardens with their children in the future!
Raft River Elementary School
The grade 3 students of Raft River Elementary School in Clearwater, BC took on the task of building a pollinator garden at their school to provide homes to local pollinators and to increase the crop yield from their school vegetable garden. They undertook research on local pollinators, created a website, visited a real beehive and local plant nursery to gather insight about designing their garden. In addition to site selection, the students identified appropriate plants and landscaping materials to include in their garden. Students of all grades were involved in the project. Kindergarten students planted Zinnia plants and cosmos seeds in their garden. Grade 3 students will maintain the garden each year with the help of community members and parents. Grade 7 students will accompany the Grade 3 students to visit a neighbouring high school where their students will cut out wooden butterfly and bee. These will be painted by the grade 3 and attached to the fence around the pollinator garden by the grade 7's leaving a legacy for their elementary school before moving up to the high school. In June each year, the school will host a picnic coinciding with the “Day of the Honeybee” to celebrate their pollinator garden.
Ecole Elmlea Junior School
The Grade 3 students at Ecole Elmlea Junior School in Etobicoke, ON had a busy school year! Their mission was to demonstrate stewardship as part of their learning program so that kids are given a chance to show how much they can contribute to positive social change. Students created their own kid-run company called the Kids’ Creative Co-op (KCC). They hold a weekly in-school boutique, where they sell quality items for $5 or less! Their inventory comes from donations, kid-made crafts and carefully sourced items. When making crafts, they recycle and reuse items destined for landfills and turn them into beautiful, practical items. The students created a community garden and outdoor learning space at our school, which is entirely funded and maintained through KCC efforts, and which benefits the entire school. All of their vegetable harvests are donated to the in-house foodbank. Students also fund a fresh food market at their school to raise awareness about food insecurity and inequity. In addition, the students also volunteer at the local food bank, women's shelter and church by preparing holiday gift bags, toiletry care bags and sorting food!
Espanola High School
Students at Espanola High School in Espanola, ON wanted a green community...especially within their school grounds. To achieve this vision, students created their “CALMmon Space” out of an old unused courtyard. The CALMmon Space features a variety of different seating areas and gardens including an Indigenous herbal garden based on the medicine wheel, a vegetable garden, a pride tulip garden, and a variety of perennial and annual pollinators! Several classes took part in making the CALMmon Space a dream come true! Students in Mr. Stewart’s class brainstormed the "idea map", while the construction class researched different types of seats to build, deciding on a Pergola style. The science classes, along with the life skills planted seeds for a vegetable garden. The science, foods class and Mr. Stewart's classes have been running a compost program as well. The space can be used for a variety of activities such as Mental Health activities, including Yoga/healthy eating.
Ridgecliff Middle School
On November 10, 2017, ten Student Leaders from Ridgecliff Middle School in Beechville, NS attended an Our Canada Project Youth Leadership Forum in Halifax. As a result of attending several sustainability workshops at the forum, the students decided to organize an Eco-Conference of their own called “Waste Management and a Healthy Environment”. The students invited a keynote speaker from Halifax Regional Municipality who facilitated a skill building workshop focusing on “Waste Management and a Healthy Environment.” The conference addressed environmental issues by providing a framework for the proper way to reduce, reuse, and recycle. A focus was on the two new recycling bins and the two new water filling stations that were installed at Ridgecliff. Following the presentation, students in the audience were actively engaged in a competition based on the “Family Feud” television show. The competition involved team members answering questions related to the knowledge that was gained from the presentation. The Student Leaders took on a leadership role throughout the entire project with the organization of the conference (needs assessment, implementation, and evaluation).
Grade 8 Students from Voice Integrative School in Toronto, ON investigated how road salt can cause detrimental effects to their local environment and the implications for human and animal health. They researched how using traditional road salt deteriorates roads and sidewalks. They examined runoff, collected and tested water samples from the Don Valley River. Students compared these samples with tap water and discovered that there is an alarming amount of salt within the river. They conducted experiments using a natural alternative, beet juice and road salt to melt ice and concluded that the result were similar. They initiated an awareness raising campaign to educate community members about the benefits of beet juice and the negative effects of road salt. The students created a documentary that won Best Film at the Water Docs@School Action Projects Program.
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