To wrap up an inquiry-based projects centered on the question “What is Home?” approximately 80 grade 6/7 students from Phoenix Middle School held a panel discussion with community representatives on homelessness in Campbell River.
Through visits to Rose Harbour Transition House, Radiant Life Church, the all-weather shelter, Lighthouse Soup Kitchen, AIDS Vancouver Island, and once a week trips to Evergreen Seniors’ Centre, students were challenged to expand their thinking beyond their concept of ‘home’ and consider how individually varied this concept may be and how they can help contribute to creating a sense of home within the community.
The academic connection was made through reading, class discussion, and journal writing on their experiences. Students also had to branch out and make their own community connections by working in a group to create a community service project that they were passionate about, develop a project proposal, submit it to the appropriate organization and, if approved, follow through on project delivery.
The panel discussion was held June 18 in Council Chambers and included: Mayor Andy Adams; Councilors Michele Babchuk, Ron Kerr, and Michelle Wright; Family Services Coordinator, Paul Mason; North Island Medical Health Officer, Dr. Charmaine Enns; Melanie Burneau of Campbell River Advocacy Services; Susan Traylor, North Island Transition Society and Rose Harbour representative; Radiant Life Church Pastor, Art Van Holst; Salvation Army Captain, Gord Taylor; and Lori McKeown, a manager with John Howard Society.
Students submitted questions on the topic of homelessness to the panel of community partners through a student moderator from Carihi Secondary. Questions included: what we are doing well to help people facing and dealing with homelessness in our community; what are the biggest challenges/barriers preventing Campbell River from resolving the issues of homelessness; and what are the top three things that panelists feel need to happen to promote inclusiveness.
The intention of the session was to create an opportunity for dialogue and to allow the students to understand some of the challenges and efforts being undertaken within the community and collaboratively, through various agencies to address homelessness.