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Student Perspectives: SPARK-ing Conversations at the Student-led Sustainability Conference

| Categories: Science and Technology, Student Success, Sustainability
VSBSC 2024

In celebration of Earth Day, the Vancouver School Board Sustainability Connection (VSBSC) held its annual student-led sustainability conference. VSBSC Chair Samantha Sheh shares insights and learnings from the day, and what this conference meant to her. 


Igniting positive change always starts with a spark. On Monday April 22, 2024, the Vancouver School Board Sustainability Connection (VSBSC) held its 12th annual sustainability conference, SPARK, at Prince of Wales Secondary School. 

Every year, the VSBSC team pours countless hours into various sustainability initiatives with the goal of empowering students in climate action. I have been incredibly honoured to chair this dedicated team for the past year, working to bring these projects—including SPARK—to life. 

This year’s technology-themed conference aimed to illuminate the profound role of technology in our pursuit of sustainability. We brought together more than 120 students and 30 environmental organizations from across the District to spark meaningful conversations surrounding the interconnectedness of technology and climate action. 

Students had the opportunity to participate in an e-waste recycling drive at the beginning of the day before partaking in several interactive workshops. From carbon-sequestering hemp bricks to using satellite data to map sustainable cities, attendees delved into a variety of topics within the sustainable technology space. It was lovely to witness youth engaging in hand-on learning around these nuanced yet relevant subjects.


Students also explored the NGO fair during lunch—discovering an assortment of volunteer opportunities and local environmental projects. A free zero-waste, vegetarian lunch was provided to all attendees. Of course, ice cream was a huge hit as well (I am a personal enjoyer of ice cream myself).


The day culminated with the final sustainable school design activity, where students were split into groups to ideate how schools could be made more sustainable using technology. Attendees leveraged their personal experiences in addition to their newfound knowledge gained during the conference to provide input on present-day actions, near-future retrofits, and long-term design goals. Several VSB trustees and staff members were also in attendance to interact with students and engage in open dialogue. The VSBSC executive team and I will be compiling the student feedback and presenting it to a working group at the VSB in June. Seeing all the creative ideas of the students was immensely perceptive; we aspire to amplify their voices on the Board level. 

Several attendees also share their experience at SPARK. 

Delara R. says, “my experience at SPARK was overwhelmingly positive. All the presenters were informative, and super friendly. VSB personnel listened and respected our ideas and opinions as we shared our suggestions.” 

Another attendee, Anisa A., shares, “SPARK was a fantastic experience! The conference brought together passionate educators, leaders, and experts to tackle sustainability issues. It was insightful, inspiring, and left me energized to implement positive change. Looking forward to next year!”


We hope this conference helped spark passion within students in the pursuit of a more sustainable future. I am so grateful for all the people who helped bring it to fruition: VSB staff, Princ of Wales administrators, conference volunteers, and all of our hardworking team members. The reach and impact of SPARK would not have been possible without their efforts. For me, this conference has certainly sparked a sense of excitement, illustrating the potential of youth in sustainability at the VSB and beyond. 

Make sure to stay tuned for future VSBSC events! You can learn more about the conference and other sustainability initiatives on the VSBSC’s Instagram page @vsbsc_.

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