Empowering Students to Make a Difference:
Prince Edward Students Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Issues of Poverty and Homelessness
Laura Middleton has always had a place to live and has never had to worry about having enough food to eat. “I’m pretty lucky. Our family has always had a house to live in and plenty of food. I now understand how lucky I am since some children my age don’t have the same bare necessities.”
Middleton is one of 22 Grade 6 Prince Edward students who are studying homelessness and poverty as a part of the Grade 6 Global Issues unit. The students will partake in many different activities throughout the next few weeks to learn more about the impact of homelessness on society.
“We wanted to introduce our students to global issues and how we as Canadians can help others make an impact. In order to help others, it is essential that we understand what people living in poverty face on a daily basis,” says Rose Lesperance, Prince Edward Grade 6 Teacher. “One goal is for our students is to dispel the stereotype that homeless people have different needs than the rest of society,” she adds.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated learning activities will be to spend one school day, Thursday, September 25th, outside in Lanspeary Park experiencing what it is like to be homeless. Students will be placed in groups of four and will be given a box and a garbage bag. They will stay in their box throughout the day, discovering how to stay warm and experience what a day in the life of a homeless person is like. Through inquiry learning, students have prepared a list of questions they hope to gain more insight into. By the end of the day, the students’ goal is to have most of their questions answered.
“Although they will understand some elements of being homeless with this activity, our students understand that this experience is only the beginning to finding out what it is like to live without a home,” adds Lesperance.
The class also challenged their fellow Prince Edward students to find a way to make a difference in their community or the world. The Grade 6’s chose to collect gently used clothing from the entire school and donate them to a homeless shelter.
“We want our students to take meaning from this experience. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can be empowered to make a difference,” says Lesperance.