Youth making a difference

When you hear about the Jane and Finch neighbourhood in Toronto, it’s not always positive news. Westview Centennial Secondary School changed all of my preconceived notions about the “rough area” when a student group called Build the Bridge registered for Project Love this year.

The group was headed by Pierre Yesaya in Grade 12 student who had arrived from Cameroon only 2 years ago. Of course, he could speak to his fellow students at school about the challenges of receiving an education in Africa. He was determined to contact CODE, get involved in Project Love and show the community and beyond that the school and the students were making a positive contribution to the world. Part of what Pierre wanted to do was change the image of Westview Centennial Secondary School – he and his classmates could, and would, make a real difference.

Pierre and about 20 other students developed a plan and took action with support from their social science teacher. They started collecting twoonies from fellow students for a two-week period to raise money to buy school materials for children in Tanzania, they developed a media plan, started a facebook group, wrote letters and distributed flyers. The school supplies would be assembled into kits and delivered to classrooms and libraries across Tanzania supported by CODE.

When I went to meet Pierre and visit Westview Centennial Secondary School I was surprised by the level of cooperation and respect I saw between students. The school was nothing like I’d been lead to believe. Along with a couple other students we visited classrooms, talked about the project, and were overwhelmed by donations – a student recently arrived from Mexico donated $20!

Most of the 1,300 students at Westview Centennial came very recently from a developing country. They and their parents know the benefits to an education in order to get a good job and to make their lives better in their new country. I was inspired by their determination and dedication – here, in what could be the unlikeliest of places, was a school filled with global citizens – young people interested and engaged in the world around them, young people taking action and making change.

Thanks to Pierre and his classmates school supplies were purchased for 560 Tanzanian children.

This story didn’t get the media attention I think it should have. Local high school does good! Unfortunately that kind of positive story doesn’t get media attention in Toronto. But it got CODE’s attention and we want to share that good news story with everyone.
Thanks Pierre and all your committee members for your participation in Project Love this year. You are truly an inspiration to others.

Garth Brooks, Senior Program Manager, Canadian Engagement, CODE