OVCN VC Spotlight Volunteer Halton


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OVCN VC Spotlight Volunteer Halton

  1. 1. OVCN’s Volunteer Centre Spotlight Written by Kevin Sutton, Communications & Community Engagement Coordinator Winter 2014 Tomorrow’s Leader’s Today Volunteer Halton Empowers Youth to the Forefront of Global Social Change Ontario youth are getting left behind. This according to a September report on Youth Unemployment by Sean Goebey from the Ontario office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. A decline in manufacturing jobs - and Provincial “austerity measures” - has left them shut out of the economic recovery. No wonder so many Ontario youth find themselves unmotivated to become productive participants in their community - dispirited by the doors closing before them. This reality is in stark contrast with the heady expectations of “generation tomorrow.” Seventh UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, said, "Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace.” How do youth go from the closed doors of the present to their expectant future? Where do they develop the necessary skills, gain the vital experience, and most importantly, nurture the sense of belonging and connectedness that would motivate them to fully participate in their communities? One policy designed to help youth develop a sense of civic responsibility and remain engaged in their communities is the Ontario Secondary School Diploma 40 hours community service requirement. However, many high schools report that students routinely find themselves approaching graduation well short of 40. For many students, it piles on yet another expectation and they don’t always see it as a connection to a better future. Like any initiative, it requires local community animation to inspire full participation. Who will span the gap between good intentions and anticipated results - as expansive a gap as between disengaged youth and their future as agents of social change? Director Ann Coburn and her staff at Volunteer Halton find themselves well-positioned to engage local students. As Halton’s hub of community service opportunities, training and placement, the Volunteer Centre has a foundation of engagement experience, a grassroots network, and most importantly, a program that builds enthusiasm for community involvement in Ontario youth - the Youth Leaders in Community (YLINC) program. “Inspiring the next generation to be engaged in community development and motivated to work towards social change is a core objective at Volunteer Halton,” says Coburn. Youth are most inspired by their peers. That’s why YLINC encourages youth volunteers to share stories through Volunteer Presentations. Students take pride in their community impact, share how Volunteer Halton’s services and resources connected them with opportunities, and encourage peers to reflect on the empowerment engendered by community service. Once this seed has been planted, Volunteer Halton invites students to a one- day, annual Youth in Action Conference to get a real taste of volunteering - and log a few of those required hours to boot. It’s meaningful activities like these that create the bridge between expectations and outcomes. And the momentum doesn’t stop there. YLINC also runs the Halton-wide Volunteer Roadshow, a mobile display that visits each Halton high school showcasing at least 10 organizations and their volunteer opportunities. The Roadshow also features the new Volunteer Halton App, built to keep smartphone-savvy youth in constant contact with their volunteer-related content. Not surprisingly, Volunteer Halton’s thorough approach has made a significant impact. Says one local Secondary School: “Volunteer Halton’s youth program has been a fabulous resource for us at Garth Webb, and this is a connection we hope to maintain indefinitely.” Dr. Frank J Hayden Secondary School says: “Volunteer Halton’s work with, and support of, my students has been essential to their learning experience and opportunity to connect with their community.”
  2. 2. OVCN’s Volunteer Centre Spotlight Written by Kevin Sutton, Communications & Community Engagement Coordinator Winter 2014 What do the youth have to say? “I want you to know that I salute you for being a role model and instrument for making change!” – CKSS Student Grade 11 “I never knew the difference I could make by telling my experience.” – CKSS Student Grade 12 “Thanks so much for everything I just got the call! Thank you so much!!!!! It was great working with you!!!! Thanks So Much!” – a Bishop Redding Student volunteer who got her first job with Volunteer Halton as a reference. Like Volunteer Centres across the province and around the world, Volunteer Halton continues to play an integral role in community cohesion, resilience and vitality. Through their essential services and innovative programming they are animating local youth and empowering them to create social change. This ensures that, when stepping forward, Ontario youth have open doors to their future. However, for Coburn and her staff at Volunteer Halton, it’s not enough. Those doors must remain open to embrace Halton residents at all stages of life. Through a New Horizons For Seniors Program a grant from the Government of Canada the Active Seniors Volunteer Ambassadors Program focuses on keeping Halton elders engaged long-term. Continuing the peer-to-peer approach, a Senior Advisory Committee will provide leadership to senior representatives of each Halton municipality as they develop senior-led activities to encourage volunteering, give presentations on the connection between volunteering and healthy aging, and develop a Speaker’s Bureau for one-on-one and group consultations. A partnership with the Elder Technology Assistance Group (ETAG) will provide learning seminars on technology. “Also in development is a Seniors-specific Web Page on Volunteer Halton’s website,” says Coburn. “Which will showcase information, volunteer opportunities and tools for senior volunteer engagement.” Volunteer Halton’s amazing initiatives enable Halton residents to make community involvement an integral part of their entire lives. -30- For more information and to connect with Volunteer Halton’s incredible resources, visit: www.volunteerhalton.ca For more information about ChangeTheWorld visit www.ctw.ovcn.ca Stepping Forward: Volunteer Centre Spotlight Series The Ontario Volunteer Centre Network presents the ‘Stepping Forward Program – a community service initiative and spotlight series’ that celebrates the unsung contribution that Volunteer Centres make towards a vibrant and prosperous Ontario. Now is the time to take volunteerism to the next level by recognizing and enabling Ontario's Volunteer Centres as they continue to step forward in service to our communities. Ontario Volunteer Centre Network (519) 731-5550 kevin@ovcn.ca For more information about Stepping Forward visit www.ovcn.ca