Books were handed out, music played, science explained amidst the soft laughter of excited young students on Monday, October 24. It was a big day for the 250 volunteer secondary students. It was their first day leading elementary students in a wide range of fun, engaging and accessible activities as part of the Windermere Community Programs.
These community programs combine mentorship and leadership skills by training senior student volunteers to lead a wide array of activities, including science experiments, reading, singing, dance, outdoor games, tutoring, Fastbreak Basketball and Soccer, photography and a growing drama program called Act It Out!
The Windermere Community Programs service seven elementary schools including Renfrew Elementary School, Sir Guy Carleton Elementary School, Sir Wilfred Grenfell Elementary School, John Norquay Elementary School, Graham Bruce Elementary School, Collingwood Neighbourhood Elementary School, and Nootka Elementary School.
"As a recent graduate of Windermere Secondary School and current Fastbreak Programmer, I can personally attest that the Windermere Community Program experience is truly impactful for participants and leaders," says Emily Chan, a Windermere Community Programmer. "Our programs provide exceptional programs for elementary school children while also creating a welcoming and nurturing atmosphere for volunteers to learn and refine their leadership skills."
Windermere pioneered the Community Schools Team model in the Vancouver School District over thirteen years ago. The model has since become the inspiration for eleven similar Community Schools Team hubs in the Vancouver school district.
Although still a young program, organizers say it has a lot of potential to grow and thrive.
"We often hear the phrase, "youth are the leaders of the future." If that is true, then the future of our neighbourhood is in good hands," says Chan. "I believe that youth are not only the leaders of the future; they are the leaders of today."