Program building compassionate leaders

RBC Royal Bank Duncan branch manager Corrine Thompson presents Cowichan Intercultural Society
RBC Royal Bank Duncan branch manager Corrine Thompson presents Cowichan Intercultural Society's Ray Anthony a cheque for $5,000 to support the society's Compassionate Leaders Program.
— image credit: Ashley Degraaf

Getting Cowichan’s youth involved in cultural diversity is a mission of Cowichan Intercultural Society’s Ray Anthony.

It’s also the mandate for one of CIS’s several programs running in the community — the Compassionate Leadership program.

“A lot of these students just want to do more,” project co-ordinator Anthony said recalling the first workshops presented to Frances Kelsey, Cowichan High and Chemainus secondary students.

“There are many benefits to the students who participate in the project,” Anthony said. “We will work with schools to ensure that students participating in the project will receive credit for their hours that can be used to satisfy their community service graduation requirement.”

Participants will also receive a Compassionate Leadership completion certificate and a personalized reference letter that can be used in college or university applications and on their resume.

For students new to Canada or Cowichan, the project is an opportunity to make friends, share culture and develop leadership skills in a fun, safe and supported way.

The program is open to students in Grades 10 to 12 attending one of the five Cowichan Valley public secondary schools (including Cowichan Valley Open Learning Alternative), and is a partnership effort between CIS, School District 79 and the Cowichan branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Organizers are looking for five students from each school.

The components of the project are three-fold, Anthony explained. Organizers first visit schools to educate, explore perceptions, chat about diversity in general and inform students of possibilities as part of a recruitment drive.

The second part provides the five chosen students the opportunity to attend a Compassionate Leadership Camp at the Cowichan Lake Education Centre with more workshops touching on diversity and talks on creating schools and communities where everyone feels welcome.

During weekend camp action, students will also create plans to transform their learning into action through individual or group projects.

And that’s where the third aspect comes in.

“With a lot of these workshops, afterwards we wonder what now?” said Anthony. “Towards the end of the camp, we will be spending a lot of time on action-planning.”

And the students might come up with their own anti-bullying campaign, or maybe it’s sponsoring another school overseas.

“It’s really an amazing opportunity to have it expand through the entire school year,” Anthony said, noting as part of phase three, students will meet with organizers on a regular basis right up until June.

And the best part yet, the program is free.

For more information, contact 250-748-3112.

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