Sikh Academy students started an initiative at the school to collect new school supplies for Syrian Refugee youth who have moved to Canada in hopes of starting their education. Students collected typical school supply items that they would purchase to begin the school year. Items include backpacks, binders, duo-tangs, rulers, glue sticks, pencils, crayons, pencil cases, sharpeners, scissors, pens, and various craft supplies. Over 2000 items were collected by Sikh Academy students over the last three weeks.
The school supply drive is one initiative, of a multi-pronged awareness and support approach, undertaken by Sikh Academy to provide support for Syrian Refugees coming to Canada. The first goal was to raise awareness in our school community as to issues surrounding the Syrian Refugee Crisis, and consider what the school could do to help. One of the school’s teachers is directly connected with the conflict in Syria, and offered to speak to all students about the concerns. These presentations were carried out over multiple days to all students and staff.
From this, students began to consider what initiatives they could undertake to provide additional support for those kids coming into Canada, looking to begin their lives. Students participated in a Toy Drive over Christmas, where Toys collected by Sikh Academy students were recently provided to Syrian Refugee families in the community by Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen. Students and staff started a clothing drive, and hundreds of items of clothing were donated directly to those families who recently arrived.
The next initiative, set to start in April and spearheaded by one of our teachers, is to have Syrian Refugees, especially kids, take part in English Language classes at our school on Saturdays. The teacher has already lined up 15 participants, and the school is providing the resources necessary for the program to be a success.
“We believe in teaching our students the value of care in our community, and this is one example of Sikh Academy students and staff putting the interests of their fellow community members, especially kids, ahead of themselves,” says Rob Purewall, Vice-Principal at Sikh Academy. “It is important to have our students engage the community, and highlight some of the positive aspects of these types of youth initiatives to counteract the negativity and youth violence that has plagued the community recently. We want these students to be leaders in their community.” The collection will be presented to government representatives on February 26, 2016.