As stated in the Teachers Resource, “Connecting the Dots” (Kozak & Elliott, 2014), the Visions of Learning are to explore strategies that engage students as active citizens in supporting environmental, social, and economic sustainability. The vision we had at Ridgecliff Middle School was to take the knowledge that the ten Student Leaders acquired at the Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF) Youth Leadership Forum on November 10, 2017, and transfer it to the entire student population at Ridgecliff. The issues that were addressed by the project are environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Our vision for Canada is for students to be aware of important issues and to be change agents.
On November 10, 2017, ten Student Leaders attended a LSF Youth Leadership Forum in Halifax. Following the Forum, a meeting was held with the Students Leaders where they provided feedback regarding the Forum. Student Leaders also discussed prospective action plans that resulted in a conference held at Ridgecliff Middle School on April 26, 2018 (the week following “Earth Day”). Hillary Hayes, Education Officer, Solid Waste Resources with the Halifax Regional Municipality, was the keynote speaker 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 were actively engaged in setting up the stage with the new recycling bins, assisting with the presentation, and distributing a water bottle and a healthy snack to every student at Ridgecliff during the nutrition break. The Student Leaders took on a leadership role throughout the entire project with the organization of the conference (needs assessment, implementation, and evaluation).
Reflection & Celebration
The conference, “Waste Management and a Healthy Environment,” proved to be very successful. The goal was to instill in students a sense of environmental, social, cultural, and economic responsibility. All students had an opportunity to reflect on the conference and what they learned through an evaluation (student survey and focus group). The conference theme resonated with students whereby they indicated (1) the knowledge they learned at the conference and (2) their action plan to support the environment as responsible citizens. With the receipt of a water bottle and a healthy snack during the conference nutrition break, all students had an opportunity to celebrate the new recycling bins and new water filling stations that were installed at Ridgecliff. Results of the project will be shared at the next Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling Advisory Committee meeting that will be held in June, 2018. With the assistance of staff, the Student Leaders will be responsible for training the younger students. Students in the Learning Centre will also learn new Life Skills as part of their curriculum outcomes. The highlight of the project was the leadership and student engagement by Ridgecliff students as active citizens in supporting a healthy environment.