SDSSStratford District Secondary School. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

Youth support each other thanks to United Way Perth-Huron

The Director of Governance with the United Way Perth-Huron says this year's Youth in Action Grants supported some fantastic projects.

Megan Partridge said the grants of up to $1,000 go toward various projects that were created by local youth to support their peers.

"So the youth, age 14 to 25, planned and implemented projects that they thought of that would be helpful for their peers, or their community," she explained. "The small grant was able to help them to fulfill that, and, you know, they also gained some leadership experience and things like that."

She says this year, there were 12 projects selected throughout the region.

"Every time we get applications for these, there's so many creative ideas the students come up with, all a little bit different," she added. "There might be a small group that works on the project, or a larger group, but it's really phenomenal, what youth can do, and what they have ideas for."

Partridge pointed out the part of the mission of the program is to build the next generation of engaged residents.

"At the end of all the projects, we asked them to submit a little report, which is good experience for them, but then it also gives us some feedback on how they feel things went," Partridge continued. "Lots of positive feedback. A lot of the students, as well, were asking their peers that were engaged, you know, what they thought of the project. And lots to be learned and with lots of positive feedback on things that were offered."

“This space has had a great impact on our Grade 7 and 8 students,” said Ella Williamson, one of the youth leads for the You Are Not Alone project at Goderich District Collegiate Institute. “The room allows positive energy to be shared between students and staff and help them reflect on what they are grateful for each and everyday.”

"This project will hopefully continue for many years to come,” said Lucy Chung, one of the youth leads for the Urban Farm project at Stratford District Secondary School. “We would like to see this project involve more students and even more community members and seniors from surrounding neighbourhoods to foster intergenerational connections and teach more people about sustainable and regenerative farming practices."

"When you're like a 17-year-old trying to start something, it can be really hard without funding,” said Amelia Morrison, part of the Tanner Steffler Foundation’s Youth Space project. “Having the opportunity to receive funding as a youth for a project you created is amazing. Then that initiative can grow into something bigger."

This past year’s funded projects included:

Bedford Intermediate Youth Project (Nancy Campbell Academy):

Students partnered with Stratford District Secondary School students to provide a blended tutoring and recreation program for elementary students.

Building Community Wellness (Listowel District Secondary School):

Students will host a speaker to discuss mental health and wellbeing and to build a sense of community.

Equitable Living Project (Central Huron Secondary School):

The youth lead ran a Christmas-time food and essential item drive at Central Huron Secondary School, partnered with a local food program to provide essential supplies to residents in need, and presented information on homelessness and local programs to classmates.

Generation Rainbow Collective (Stratford Pride Community Centre):

2SLGBTQ+ youth led a series of eight weekly social activities to strengthen their community and support each other.

Microscope Lending Program (Huron County Library):

A homeschooled student acquired microscopes for the Huron County Library catalogue and ran small classes on how to use them reaching over 120 youth.

Motivational Mondays (St. Marys DCVI):

Students brought in a mindfulness teacher to teach two classes about practical strategies to aid anxiety.

New and Improved Picnic Tables (Stratford District Secondary School):

Students collaborated across classes to build and decorate a new picnic table for the school grounds.

Students Helping Students (Stratford District Secondary School):

Students created an in-school food station stocked with a variety of lunch food items to supplement and/or provide lunch for students facing food insecurities. The youth lead created a report to document the needs discovered.

The Kindness Project (South Huron District High School):

Students planned activities to spread "kindness" in their community, such as hosting a concert for nursing home residents, working with Exeter Elementary School students to spread rocks painted with positive messages around town, and appreciation events for school staff.

Urban Farming Project (Stratford District Secondary School):

Students partnered with the Local Community Food Centre to create an urban farm. Students and community members worked together to build intergenerational connections and learn regenerative farming practices.

You Are Not Alone (Goderich District Collegiate Institute):

Grade 12 students started a mental health awareness group at the school and created a dedicated wellness space for Grade 7-8 students with contributions from the art class.

Youth Space (Tanner Steffler Foundation):

Youth volunteers installed a hygiene pantry for youth participants in their new space.

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