Posted in R.I.S.E.

R.I.S.E. and Woodroffe HS SHSM ICE program

Last week we had the opportunity to work with another amazing group of youth during our Social Change Maker ICE training. This time we were at Woodroffe HS in Ottawa, ON. We had amazing community partners join us and the youth all took action to help them out. We had one student work with Parkdale Food Centre to share suggestions on how to get more youth to their program. He also wrote a wonderful blog post about them. Check it out below.

Written By Alden Thompson

This morning, I was given the opportunity to talk with Karin Freeman, an Ottawa resident who volunteers with the Parkdale Food Centre—specifically, a branch of the PFC known as Growing Futures. Upon being asked her motivations for joining this cause, Karin described how her extensive experience working on farms, and the creation of Growing Futures, acted as a sort of of “Eureka moment” which convinced her to get involved. 

Over the last several years, the Parkdale Food Centre—located on 30 Rosemount Avenue—has evolved into one of Ottawa’s most unique organizations; and redesigned what it means to be a food bank. Comprised largely of volunteers, the goal of the PFC as a whole is to support those affected by food insecurity through organizing a wide variety of programs (cooking classes and entrepreneurship opportunities are both examples), emphasizing positive neighbourly relations, and attempting to discover the root causes of what is truly a multi-faceted issue. Growing Futures offers a fascinating, and essential perspective, in this complex discussion of food security. The objective of the organization is to work with youth on all aspects of the issue:  supporting youth in their discovery of systemic causes, connecting young people with community members, and helping them pursue collective action are defined as the major pillars in achieving this.

 Food security is, by all accounts, a major problem within society and it is because of this fact that the Parkdale Food Centre’s cause is so essential. Unfortunately, many people who are struggling are either unaware of the PFC’s existence or may feel a sense of stigma in going to a food bank; therefore preventing those individuals from getting the support that is essential for their wellbeing. The Parkdale Food Centre does certainly have the capacity to help, both by giving a wide range of fresh food ro people in need and through its many fascinating programs. Additionally, Karin repeatedly cited a struggle to get youth involved with Parkdale’s mission—the unique input of youth is a valuable step in the PFC’s mission— though difficulties in pursuing this have arisen due to factors like young people not being as directly affected by food insecurity.  

To support the Parkdale Food Centre’s cause, all members of the community are encouraged to attend their outdoor event; expected to be hosted at Hintonburg Park which is only a short walk away from the main building. This event aims to create a sense of camaraderie between those attending through organizing collaborative events, providing free food (though donations are greatly appreciated), and offering volunteer hours for anyone who helps out with the activities. By the end of the event, participants will hopefully leave with a better understanding of the PFC’s goals, know where to find the community fridge, and discover their own ways to aid those affected by the issue. 

Further information about the mission of these two organizations can be found at their Instagram: @parkdalefood and @_growingfutures

Posted in R.I.S.E.

REACH INSPIRE SOAR EMPOWER

Well it has been quite some time since I last posted, I have been a little busy. Between May 19, 2020 (my last post) and now a lot has changed. In a nutshell, I took a leave without pay from my job and opened up a Not-for-Profit, virtual, alternative high school called R.I.S.E. (Reach Inspire Soar Empower) Academy and it has been quite the ride. Between September 2020 and today we moved from a very small team of me a student teacher a few part time staff and some volunteers to a team of Board of Directors, a Principal / Facilitator (me), two full time facilitators, one math / science specialist, two Social Work students, Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Manager, three student teachers, 5 + volunteers and soon to be 10 + student interns. Last year were were able to have youth accumulate 95 credits between September and July and this year we are projected to have youth accumulate 200 credits by the end of July.

The goal of R.I.S.E. is to provide students a learning experience that compliments their public school or homeschooling experience. We want to find ways to take the “system” out of learning and recognize, celebrate and utilize their individual passions, strengths and motivators. Below is a breakdown on how the program works.

Partnerships

Last year we partnered with Multifaith Housing Initiative (MHI) and received our very first grant from the Ottawa Community Foundation. MHI exists to build affordable housing that helps fix Ottawa’s housing crisis and gets at-risk people into secure, safe homes. This first grant allowed us us to provide free programming to 18 youth in their neighbourhoods. Next we partnered with Rideau Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre where we received a grant from Ontario Teacher Insurance Plan, here we created a summer pilot Entrepreneurship program where we had 7 youth start businesses and work on a credit. Our partnership with MHI and RRCRC continued into this year where we once again received funding from Ottawa Community Foundation and more recently a grant from the Rideau Hall Foundation. In total we will be able to provide free programming to 100 youth between September 2021 and June 2023.

We are always working on new partnerships, stay tuned for our latest connections!!

Youth Services Bureau Interns

In the fall we connected with Youth Service Bureau where we were able to support at-risk youth by hiring young people to give them meaningful employment and learning experiences. We hired our first group of 4 interns in January and it has been amazing. These youth not only have meaningful employment at R.I.S.E., but those who are high school aged are also working on credits that go towards their O.S.S.D. So far we have a Video Editors, Social Media and Community Outreach workers and Blog writer.

Our blog writer intern has been working hard over the last few months to learn the ins and outs of blog writing and what R.I.S.E. is all about. Please stay tuned for some updates from her, she will be chronicling what has been going on.

Give us a follow on instagram to follow along with us.

Thanks for continuing to Unlearn With Us 🙂

Thank you to all our amazing partners below!!