LOUISE RUSSO YOUTH AWARDS 2007

The RISE Project
David & Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute Toronto
Respect in Schools Everywhere

RISE is a community based initiative driven by youth who are focused on empowering young people to build self-esteem, build healthy friendships and learn to respect others and their differences. Recognizing that the violence in Schools – is “youth violence” they are addressing head on the issues of bullying – physical, emotional – and even cyber-bullying. Other issues like racism, homophobia, rumour spreading, and sexual harassment are seen as everyday occurrences and a key focus for the group. Each group member takes on a leadership role to provide positive role modeling with their peers and others. Through youth lead workshops they train other youth on violence prevention programs and how to build self esteem among peers. In particular they are working outside of their School and work with feeder Schools at the Grade 7 to 10 level with senior students role modeling with younger students. They hope to take their program national. As Roberta Ingram , age 16, RISE volunteer said “ RISE has changed my life- our lives. It has opened a new door for us, one that leads to a place where violence is preventable. It’s a choice we make and RISE is inspiring us to make smarter choices that will help save all of us… We’ve already touched the lives of over 3,000 youth. We’re getting there…I just know it.”

 

Lucile Neden & Mika Imai
Riverdale Collegiate Institute Toronto

Boxing Day 2005 was a day for Lucile and Mika, like it was for many young people; a day that would profoundly affect them. However they took the tragedy and loss of a fellow student to gun violence and became the catalyst in organizing an event that would unite youth. Lucile and Mika created the United Games and brought together four inner-city high schools to participate. The premise was to link dissimilar schools in the city to come together to weaken tensions, open communications and promote understanding. Through the use of athletics and the drawing power of sports stars they hoped to capture participants’ attention and focus on the complex issues of youth violence. The United Games brought together students, the criminal justice system, popular athletes, school officials, and leading academics to end a tragedy with real hope for enduring change. The 2nd annual United Games was just held this past week. In their words –“ We knew one person could make a difference.”

 

Nalayine Balarajan
Dunbarton High School Pickering

When Nalayine isn’t busy thinking about how to solve the world’s issues – she’s busy being involved in her community’s issues. She has taken on active leadership roles in Dunbarton High School’s Students Against Racism, Students Stopping Violence, Durham Tamil Association and Youth Organization, and Communities Against Violence Everywhere. Her active leadership encourages other youth to get involved and take responsibility on issues like date-rape, domestic violence, and preventing other forms of violence. She also has a very interesting perspective on how taxes can prevent violence; by charging an additional tax to TV shows, movies, games and entertainment that are rated for violence –so money can go to anti-violence initiatives. Nalayine believes that instead of spending more money on law enforcement, we should have better funded programs to create socially responsible youth. We should focus on prevention rather than the cure.

 

YOUCAN
Kipling Collegiate Institute Toronto

YOUCAN is a national program that has had tremendous success and leadership at Kipling Collegiate Institute. The program at Kipling CI has specifically focused on conflict resolution and in particular connecting other schools in the community to their Safety Mediation Program. Peace building in the school and community is their main priority. All students from Grade 9 to 12 have had training in conflict resolution and 17 students attended a training conference this year. The effect of the program has reached far beyond just peace building – it has empowered students in their learning process as well. As Principal Dale reported “We are a school of 775 students comprised of 54 nationalities. Since the program launch we have reduced suspensions from 125 per year to less than 5 per year, the rate of failure has reduced by 40 percent, and the literacy test score increased by 30 percent. Over 100 students are involved. Our students see themselves as the “little school with a big heart and a bigger dream”.”

 

Molly Moreash
Langstaff Secondary School Richmond Hill

“Leadership is just part of who I am. Leadership propels me forward and helps me to understand my role in our society – that “one by one, we can make a difference.” Molly showed her leadership by organizing a regional conference on equality and racism – HYPE (Helping Youth Promote Equality). After leading for a year, monthly visits to feeder schools to promote racial acceptance and cultural equality, she was chosen to lead the conference for the York District School Board. As President of RACE (Racial Acceptance and Cultural Equality) in her school she has worked towards building peace and tolerance with her peers. In her spare time she is Vice President of the School’s environmental group and as well a Prefect to provide guidance and support to younger students.

 

LOUISE RUSSO LEADERSHIP GRANT Recipients

Bryanna Carter
Monarch Park Collegiate

Natalie Evans
Etobicoke Collegiate

Maurice Myrie
Sir Robert L. Borden Business & Technical Institute

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