Help wanted: Building better citizens

October 2010   Comments

In September, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) launched Imagineaction, an initiative to support student-driven social action projects. According to a survey commissioned by CTF last spring, the vast majority of Canadians agree that public schools are an appropriate place for students to learn about concepts such as ethical behaviour, environmental protection and participatory democracy. Imagineaction was designed to encourage students and teachers on their way to achieving this goal. 

The program offers resources for teachers to support and oversee students’ projects, including funding subsidies, access to experts from different professions, tools and electronic showcases. Students and their teacher work together to come up with an idea for a project, which must fall under one of six themes:

  • developing relationships by addressing issues such as bullying, racism and safety

  • engaging in active and participatory citizenship

  • improving health and wellness

  • increasing leadership to build strong and vibrant communities

  • encouraging environmental sustainability

  • eliminating poverty in their community

CTF is asking nurses to volunteer their time and expertise as health-care professionals to help move projects forward. The process is simple: individuals register on the website and, once approved, they will be contacted by e-mail when their assistance is required. At that point, the individual determines to what extent he or she wishes to become involved. An example of the type of project a nurse might be asked to support would be a plan to visit a long-term care facility to donate books to the residents. A nurse could share his or her expertise by speaking to the class before the visit to explain what they could expect to see and hear at the nursing home. Other projects might require only that nurses offer guidance or advice via e-mail. The community-based nature of the program means that in addition to supporting the next generation of leaders, volunteers are also contributing to the health and well-being of their own neighbourhoods.

Mary-Lou Donnelly, CTF president, said, “It is our hope that Imagineaction will serve as a catalyst to inspire teachers and their students to think critically about the world around them and to act to make their community a better place.” In its first year, organizers plan to fund 125 projects, ensuring broad regional coverage in all six themes. For more information, or to register as a volunteer, go to www.imagine-action.ca.

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