Mayor Henry Braun congratulates students Kiahanna Wease

Mayor Henry Braun congratulates students Kiahanna Wease

(With video) And the winner is… Charitable competition comes to a close at Abbotsford school

Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) at WJ Mouat Secondary

The Abbotsford Community Services refugee program has become the latest beneficiary of a program that encourages students at WJ Mouat Secondary to educate themselves about local charities in a quest to win a $5,000 grant for one of those charities from the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI).

A team of five students, Kiahanna Wease, Kobe Lightfoot, Delano Paq-Man, Elana Huget, and Zoe Vassallos, made their case for the Abbotsford Community Services program Tuesday afternoon before a panel of judges and packed school auditorium.

Learning about the work the agency does was an eye-opening experience for the team, who spent time getting to know Abbotsford Community Services and people who work with refugees as part of their preparations.

“We learned a lot of stuff along the way,” Wease said.

“It was such a long journey and it was so nice to see it all come together (with a decision in their favour),” Vassallos said after the decision was announced.

A second place award for $500 from Mouat school went to the team that presented for Canucks Children’s Place Abbotsford, Luke Snow, Kenji Noftle, Jacob Kooy, Sadie Baird, and Jaenjira Lane.

Second place winners

The second place team won $500 for their charity, Canuck Children’s Place Abbotsford (the dollar figure on the cheque wasn’t updated)  L to R: Mayor Henry Braun, Jaenjira (JJ) Lane, Sadie Baird, Jacob Kooy, Kenji Noftle, Luke Snow and principal Jay Pankratz. SUPPLIED

A panel of six judges, including Abbotsford mayor Henry Braun, Mouat principal Jay Pankratz, YPI representative Tia Borden and Grade 12 students Madi Hendry, Jayme Reitsma and Erika Spitzig watched the seven multi-media presentations, that also included The Women’s Resource Centre of the Fraser Valley, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, Creative Centre Society for Mental Wellness, the Ann Davis Transition Society and The Cyrus Centre.

The YPI program is an international initiative designed to support young people in developing community awareness.

Students are taught about philanthropy and charity as part of their Planning 10 course at Mouat.

Teacher LisaMarie Fraser explained the program aims to get students to educate themselves about important issues through learning about charities as part of the friendly competition for a YPI grant.

In teams, they research social issues in the community and create a presentation on a local charity they believe is best placed to tackle an issue for which they are passionate.

“Education is more than learning about reading and writing, it’s about looking at what’s going on in the world and figuring out how we can help,” Fraser said.

YPI presentation

One of seven presentations at the YPI assembly at WJ Mouat Secondary School in Abbotsford. This was for the Ann Davis Transition Society. DAN FERGUSON

The grant of $5,000 is provided by the Toskan-Casale Foundation in association with YPI’s partners and donors.

“There are a lot of grassroots charities out there that don’t get the attention or the funding they deserve,” YPI president and co-founder Julie Toskan-Casale says.

“At the same time, there seem to be fewer and fewer opportunities for young people to participate in meaningful experiences that can influence not only their education and employability skills, but their very character as active and compassionate citizens. YPI gets these two groups working together so that both are able to benefit and meet their own goals, while also having a positive impact on the community at large.”

The program is open to schools in Canada, New York City, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Schools interested in the program must apply and have their application reviewed and approved before they can participate.

More information is available at