Students Tackle Social Justice Action Projects in World Cultures
The Grade 12 World Cultures class was a new addition to the slate of courses offered at CDS this year. The course examines aspects of culture and identity with multiple opportunities to look at significant contemporary issues.
A major part of the course is a social action project. Students identified an area of equity, social justice or cultural diversity in which they were interested. They researched their topic and developed a plan for an initiative that would foster change in their area. The students not only developed critical thinking and organizational skills, but they emerged with a feeling that they have helped promote positive change no matter how big or small.
Aiden Liggett ’21 had this to say about his experience, “Our objective was open and flexible from the start, in the sense that we could help to bring change/awareness to any issue within our broader community using a variety of methods, as long as they were achievable within our timeframe. These methods included petitions, videos, flyers, social media pages, presentations and more. Students were able to spread awareness and bring about positive change toward many different, yet important issues in a variety of ways.”
The topics they chose were widely ranging, but some examples are teen body image issues on social media, organizing a drive for feminine hygiene products for homeless or financially disadvantaged women, or raising awareness of the effects of drugs and their impact on the local community.
“This was their major assessment for the course and they have spent months researching and implementing their plans.” explained Mr. Downer. “Most of them had to be quite nimble in their approach as the constantly changing COVID restrictions became quite an obstacle.” Over the coming weeks, students will present to their classmates, and a few will be shared with the entire Senior School via virtual Monday assemblies.
Aiden chose to approach Dog Tales Rescue & Sanctuary in King City where he has volunteered since before the pandemic started. Dog Tales works to take in, rehabilitate, heal and find loving homes for animals that have been abused and/or abandoned in countries including Israel, the U.S. and Canada. His plan was to collaborate with Dog Tales’ Senior Handler Cassandra on the creation of a video to help spread awareness about animal abuse. He and Cassandra decided that the video should consist of background on what Dog Tales is and what they do, what animal abuse is and how to identify and prevent it, and then share some firsthand experience of animal abuse by telling the story of a very special dog, named Phoebe. Aiden is thrilled with the final product and cannot wait to share it with the Senior School at assembly on May 10th.
A few other examples of the range of causes our students chose to take on through their social action projects include:
Neyla Kirby ’22 chose to address the global and local issue of period poverty, and had planned on organizing a drive with the Social Justice Club to gather feminine hygiene products for local food banks until COVID disrupted that. She will present her project to the Senior School at assembly this Monday, May 3rd, and will ask her peers and teachers to contribute to an online donations page. Neyla plans to raise funds and awareness virtually in lieu of an in-person dress down day, and then purchase period products to donate to the King, Vaughan and Aurora Food Banks.
Abbie Davies ’21 decided to create a petition to send Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole challenging his party’s stance on conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is an abusive method to modify the sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender speech of a patient. Her initial goal was to get 20 signatures, but she now has more than 500!
Rosie O’Neill ’21 invited Cheyenne Sherbo from Addiction Services for York Region to the present at the April 19th SS Assembly on her topic - the effects of drugs and their impact on the community.
CDS wishes to recognize and acknowledge the land on which the school operates. For thousands of years, these have been the traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. We also recognize the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat, Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee peoples who also shared this land. CDS respects the relationship with these lands and recognizes that our connection can be strengthened by our continued relationship with all First Nations, by acknowledging our shared responsibility to respect and care for these lands and waters for future generations.
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