This year Fisher Park / Summit Alternative School has been actively involved in the process of community building. Our students have engaged in hygiene-kit fundraising drives, healthy food drives, as well as providing hands-on service to support their fellow community members. This student initiative to act as “good neighbours” emanates from a challenge posed by Karen Secord, the executive director of the Parkdale Food Centre. Upon visiting our classroom in the fall of 2014, Karen challenged the students to become good-will ambassadors for those Kitchissippi residents facing the perils associated with food-insecurity.
The students embraced Karen’s challenge, organizing an extra-curricular group (the Fisher Summit Community Helpers), and quickly began the process of engaging with their community from a social justice perspective. Through their initiative, organization, and determination our students have helped to nourish the residents of Kitchissippi, strengthening our community as a whole. Most importantly, these students have extended dignity into the lives of their neighbours. As a culminating activity, the students who formed our Fisher Summit Community Helpers group, decided that they would like to see first hand what the Parkdale Food Centre offers to the community.
Following our visit in early April, and after a glorious year of working with Karen and the PFC, here is what our kids took away from their experience at the Centre:
During our trip to the PFC I felt happy, and that I was helping in the community. While volunteering at the PFC I experienced making memories with my friends that I will never forget and having a sense of meaning. The tasks that I completed to help the day-to-day operations at the PFC were helping around the kitchen. Completing these tasks revealed to me that you have to take responsibility and that you should cherish what you have because you are privileged.
During our trip to the PFC I felt …I felt really proud that I was part of the group, and really happy because we were helping people that needed it. While volunteering at the PFC I experienced …hope, because I wanted to go to help again, as well as see more people at the Centre. The tasks that I completed to help the day-to-day operations at the PFC were … I helped make some of the best smelling muffins that I have ever smelled. I was in charge of smashing bananas for the muffins.
During our trip to the PFC I felt very good because I felt like I was doing something to help my community. I had this warm fuzzy feeling inside. It felt awesome to help. While volunteering at the PFC I experienced feelings of accomplishment and pride when I finished a task. The tasks that I completed to help the day-to-day operations at the PFC were getting the fruit and veggies from Karen’s car and helping sort them all. Completing these tasks revealed to me that the Parkdale Food Center really tries to help keep our community healthy because everyone deserves to be healthy no matter what your living conditions are.
During our trip to the PFC I felt very happy to know that I was helping out the less fortunate in my community. I also felt shocked to see how many people so near where I live need to use a facility like this. While volunteering at the PFC I experienced happiness and joy while being with friends and helping others. The tasks that I completed to help the day-to-day operations at the PFC were sorting and stacking vegetables and fruit. Completing these tasks revealed to me the amount of care they put into all the things they do. We had to put all of the produce that was bruised, or damaged in a box, and these items would then be used to cook or bake other things.
During our trip to the PFC I felt … honoured to have been there, and happy that I was helping other people. The tasks that I completed to help the day-to-day operations at the PFC were … Completing these tasks revealed to me … When I was there I made banana muffins and it made me realize that every effort, no matter how small, helps a lot.
During our trip to the PFC I felt … like I was helping the community. The tasks that I completed to help the day-to-day operations at the PFC were … bagging foods and putting them in the right place. Completing these tasks revealed to me … that we need to be grateful for what we have, and to stop complaining 🙂
The words of children carry so much weight, and when these words are derived from a place of equity and social justice, they have the power to transform a community. Thank you to Karen, and the entire Parkdale Food Centre team for challenging our students to actively engage in their neighbourhood. This is the generation that we have been waiting for! More to come from Fisher / Summit during the 2015-2016 school year.