Spectrum students aim to empower youth

Event will encourage students to tackle important social issues

From left

From left

Would Demi Lovato come to Saanich to speak to teens about eating disorders? What about Archbishop Desmond Tutu to tell of his fight against apartheid? A few high school students sure hope so.

Spectrum seniors Kelsey Griffin and Tami Mitrofanova, along with dozens of other student leadership and social justice students, are organizing a Youth Empowerment Day to encourage other teens to be better citizens while addressing hot-button issues. The event is similar to We Day, the annual, international youth celebration in which inspirational musicians, actors, politicians and speakers perform and talk about topics affecting young people.

Tentatively scheduled for the week of May 12, the Youth Empowerment Day is Griffin and Mitrofanova’s final project for their Grade 12 social justice class, which takes a deeper look at such issues as homelessness and poverty, addiction, LGBTQ issues and animal rights.

“We couldn’t decide on what topic we wanted to address, so then we were like, ‘Let’s just do all of them,’” said Griffin with a smile. “We thought that was a perfect idea to incorporate all of them.”

Griffin said she was partly influenced by last year’s We Day in Vancouver – which featured astronaut Chris Hadfield, Canadian pop-rock group Hedley, Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin and legendary American actor Henry Winkler – as well as a “mini We Day” organized by Spectrum teachers in September.

“We decided to do it as a way to better the school spirit and culture – it was sort of a surprise,” said social justice teacher Tom Gordon. “It was a pretty ambitious endeavour, but a pretty cool thing that we did.”

The Youth Empowerment Day will be the first student-driven event of its kind at Spectrum, with guidance and some assistance from their teachers. Griffin is currently working to line up speakers and performers for the event who can educate Spectrum students about a broad range of issues.

“We have Amanda Todd’s mom, who talks about teen suicide and bullying, and we have a First Nations lady coming to talk about residential schools,” said Griffin.

For entertainment, country singer Mike LeBlanc – who is outspoken against bullying and has a song dedicated to Amanda Todd – is scheduled to perform.

In addition to the Youth Empowerment Day, Griffin and Mitrofanova are planning a dinner open to the public, with food prepared by students from the school’s culinary arts program. The dinner will feature a condensed version of the afternoon’s speaking schedule.

To pay for speaker honorariums, the school will be selling tickets to the dinner, as well as running fundraisers such as silent auctions leading up to Youth Empowerment Day.

The event is a tremendous undertaking, and as Griffin’s friend Ceilidh Helmer can attest, the high school senior already has a lot on her plate.

“Kelsey does a lot of stuff, and this is adding onto all the stuff she does,” said Helmer.

“It’s another leaf on her already considerable pile,” added student leadership teacher Jeff Marchi.

But Griffin is enthusiastic about the event, even though it’s four months away.

“I’ve actually had a lot of fun organizing it,” she said. “It’s a bit stressful, but there’s so many other people helping us.”

While Griffin and Mitrofanova are in the process of contacting potential speakers and performers, they are open to anyone looking to speak about a social issue at the event. Likewise, anyone interested in donating items to the silent auction can drop them off at the school’s office.

For more information about the Youth Empowerment Day, or to inquire about presenting at the event or donating to the silent auction, email Marchi at jmarchi@sd61.bc.ca or Gordon at tegordon@sd61.bc.ca.

 

jacob.zinn@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

A dogs in parks pilot study unanimously approved by Saanich council will evaluate how park space can best be shared between dog owners and non-owners alike. (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Saanich to study park-sharing strategy between those with and without pets

District-wide People, Parks and Dogs study to produce recommendations by fall

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.’s Indigenous language, art and culture

North Saanich advisor says initiative supports urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

General manager Lindsey Pomper says Sidney’s Star Cinema cannot wait welcome audiences when it reopens June 18, amid an easing of public health measures. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney’s Star Cinema raises curtain for the first time after months in the darkness

Iconic theatre to reopen at half capacity for Friday night showing

Staff member Lena Laitinen gives the wall at BoulderHouse a workout during a media tour on June 16. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
BoulderHouse raring to rock Langford

Popularity of bouldering continues to climb across Greater Victoria

The Sooke Potholes is a jewel in the community's crown. Transition Sooke hosts a town hall meeting on community growth on June 26. (Courtesy: Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke forum tackles community growth

To Grow or Not to Grow online town hall meeting set for June 26

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Most Read