Representatives of the Youth Excellence Society (YES), a charitable, non-partisan organization that provides leadership training for the youth of British Columbia, were at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School (PSO) recently to involve students in a pilot project for its new program.
The program is called Change it Up and its purpose and goal is to create a more caring and respectful environment in British Columbia secondary schools.
Earlier this month, the entire school body had the opportunity to work with the YES team in learning how to build connections and relationships, especially between students who might otherwise not talk to each other.
They explored and broke down assumptions, stereotypes and barriers between students, and they were introduced to core concepts that would allow the students to create the kind of atmosphere they want in their school.
A Free Zone was created in the student lounge area where two giant canvases frame a written collection of things students don’t want in their school and suggestions on how to make it happen.
“The week was a huge success,” says Chelsea Lake Youth Programs director for BC Co-operative Association and YES, who led the team.
She was joined by eight YES facilitators, including former PSO graduates Cody Puckett and Zack Matfin.
Lake says PSO students have been attending YES camps for 10 years and are strongly supported by the Williams Lake and District Credit Union.
“We’ve had up to 18 PSO kids in one summer.”
PSO teacher Karen Johnson says being involved in the pilot project was the biggest thing that has happened at the school and influence of YES has made a difference at the school over the years.
“We get a positive spinoff from the large number of kids who get it.”