Class project tackles solutions for poverty

Recommendations will be provided to panel of community groups and services

A class project at W. J. Mouat Secondary will tackle the question “What can we do to eradicate poverty in Abbotsford?”

Mouat vice-principal Vijay Manuel said the project will involve almost 30 students in a Grade 11 and 12 acting class.

In a process known as “problem-based learning,” the students will first discuss, develop and execute a plan to gather information. This could include doing online research, bringing in guest speakers or visiting service providers in the community.

They will then discuss their findings and come up with a list of recommendations, resulting in a presentation to a panel in mid-November.

Manuel said the presentation will be done in a creative way, as determined by the students.

The project panel includes groups such as the United Way, Abbotsford Community Services, the school district, the Abbotsford Youth Commission, and the police and fire departments.

Manuel said the initiative will be documented by video every step of the way and will be edited into a three-and-a-half-minute piece.

Manuel, chair of the Abbotsford City of Character council, said the idea for a “problem-based learning” project was a “cumulative effort” among the character council, the school district and others.

The topic of poverty first arose in the spring, but became more dominant as the issue of homelessness developed in the community over the summer.

Manuel said the thought was that young people might offer alternative solutions.

“We (adults) think we have all the answers, but they have a different perspective … We want to hear from kids.”

Fine arts teacher Brian Billo, co-chair of the Mouat character committee, was approached to get involved, resulting in the involvement of one of his acting classes.

Mouat Secondary is known as a City of Character school, meaning it strives for the initiative’s six values – empathy, service, courage, responsibility, respect and integrity.

The character movement in Abbotsford resulted in a committee being formed in 2009. The group meets regularly to discuss ways to address the six values, including organizing events and presentations.

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