Grow Your Own Green Team Conference
We envision a Canada where we are aware and educated on the importance and impact of reducing our carbon footprint by making conscious, eco-friendly decisions at the individual level. We also envision raising sustainability awareness through community-led campaigns to support the ten goals of the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan, which is a “road map to becoming the greenest city by 2020” (City of Vancouver, 2015). Starting at the student-body level, we work with youth leaders to expand their green initiatives and projects from school to community.
Our project, the Grow Your Own Green Team (GYOGT) conference addresses our vision by starting sustainability leadership at the children and youth level. Youth leaders (age 14-18) coordinate an interactive eco-themed, full-day conference for school-aged children (age 5-12) from elementary schools in our community. Topics of the GYOGT conference includes: upcycling, compost management, jam making, and an urban farm tour.
The GYOGT conference engages students of all grades. The David Thompson Green Team youth leaders are high school students who coordinated the conference day’s itinerary, workshops, activities, and presentations. The youth leaders additionally led the workshops and presentations themselves, which they spent a month’s time preparing for.
A total of 30 elementary school children attended the conference, and each elementary school returned back to their schools with the encouragement to initiate a new green project or expand on an existing one. Each elementary school was provided with a $50 worth of supplies for their projects.
We want to foster the mentorship and connection between the elementary and high school youth and also between the elementary children and green teams. Many of the children who attended the GYOGT conference will be attending David Thompson once they enter grade 8; we hope that their participation at their elementary school green team will transfer to them participating at their high school green team.
Reflection & Celebration
Many of the David Thompson youth leaders were new to the role. The GYOGT conference was the first time they organized an event this size for a full-day. There were challenges in mentoring the youth to the intricacies of event planning. Nonetheless, the youth leaders were able to successfully and confidently present their workshops, led all activities, and created an exciting learning environment for the elementary school guests.
There were also challenges for elementary school teachers to find substitutes for their classes when they can only take a few children to the conference. As we want to include a few schools, we can only have space for up to 8 children per school. However, as we sent out formal invitations ahead of time, teachers had ample amount of time to resolve any scheduling conflicts. We had a total of 30 elementary school children attending that day, which was the perfect number for us to divide them into workshops and presentation groups.