Students make winning pitch for Victoria charity

Oak Bay High school project teaches advocacy, philanthropy

Oak Bay High’s Youth in Philanthropy winners Abbey Sadler

A Greater Victoria charity is $5,000 richer thanks to the hard work and passion of a trio of Oak Bay High students.

The money was awarded to 1UP Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre after the team of Brynn Featherstone, Katrina Brindle and Abbey Sadler beat out nearly 175 of their Grade 11 classmates last week in a unique competition sponsored by the Youth in Philanthropy Initiative (YPI).

A program of the non-profit Toskan Casale Foundation, YPI sees students identify a local grassroots charity in need. The students visit the charity to better learn how it serves the community, then present a pitch to a panel of judges, explaining why the organization merits support. The winning group’s charity receives a grant from the foundation.

This is the second year that students at Oak Bay High have taken part in the YPI competition.

“The whole thing is an amazing project,” said Featherstone. “People became so passionate about their charities.”

For Featherstone, Brindle and Sadler, that passion ran a little deeper. The judging panel, comprised mainly of Grade 12 students who participated in last year’s competition, cited the girls’ personal connection with 1UP as a primary factor in their winning pitch.

“All three of us have single moms, and we could kind of relate to it,” Featherstone said. “We learned everything this charity provided, and seeing how it affected everyone made it more real.”

A visit to the centre strengthened the trio’s desire to advocate on its behalf.

“The first thing that struck me was that I’ve driven past that place so many times, but I didn’t even know what it was,” Brindle said.

Scott Alexander, the Oak Bay High teacher who implemented the project as part of his Planning 11 class, said the girls’ experience is exactly the sort of thing that YPI is designed to accomplish.

“It demystifies the bigger world,” he said.

“They realize that these aren’t faraway problems. They’re pretty close to our society.”

Although there was only one winning presentation, Alexander said several students told him they weren’t disappointed to come up short, because the money was secondary.

“It was about bringing awareness to (their) group.”

This is no one-off effort, either, said Featherstone. She and her teammates have already discussed remaining involved with 1UP in some capacity.

The take-away from the YPI project is more than just a good grade and the positive vibes that come from helping an organization in need, added Brindle.

“Seeing how hard these people work, I have a deeper appreciation for the importance of charity.”

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