In October 2018, a group of SJASD staff joined forces to create more meaningful opportunities for students to volunteer and get involved in the community. This group initiative stemmed from an inspiring professional development session led by Mitch Bourbonniere in the fall of 2018.
Together, Jameswood Alternative School (JAS) Guidance Counsellor Ms. Grant, Social Workers Ms. Plesh and Ms. Thordarson, Behaviour Intervention Team liaison Ms. Wake and school psychologist Ms. Juchnowski, set out to help students develop a strong sense of purpose through helping others and themselves. Research reflects that volunteering and helping others can increase self-worth and help foster a positive sense of identity. With this in mind, a group of six SJASD students, two from Collège Sturgeon Heights Collegiate and four from JAS, accompanied Ms. Grant, Ms. Plesh and Ms. Thordarson to participate in the Bear Clan's Youth Patrol.
The Bear Clan is a group of community members in the inner city of Winnipeg that meets and walks around the neighourhood every evening to provide a sense of safety in the community. This is achieved through a non-violent, non-threatening, non-judgmental and supportive approach. The group walked through the inner city for an hour and a half offering people water, food and care packages in which they prepared consisting of mitts, socks and toques.
"It was really good. It was way out of my comfort zone, nothing that I've ever done before," said student participant Caleb D. "It was nice to not think about myself only and to think of others. For sure I would do it again."
This is one of many planned activities on the horizon for this school year as a result of this cross-department
collaboration. The team is also lining up volunteer initiatives at Winnipeg Harvest, Agape Table, Christmas Cheer Board and many more opportunities yet to be finalized. Students can bank their volunteered time to go towards volunteer hours for graduation, a volunteer credit or to gain memorable experiences with their peers by helping others and contributing within their community.
Information submitted by School Social Worker Ms. Plesh