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Youth Voice Matters!

Strengthening Democracy with a Modern, Ever-Evolving Civic Education

You may have heard about our Civics program, DILA (Day of Information for a Lifetime of Action). Since 2007, this program has worked with over 300 Ottawa classrooms to meaningfully involve youth in creating positive long-term change in their communities.

Over eight classroom visits from trained Youth Ottawa facilitators, students are guided through the process of taking action on a social or environmental civic issue of their choice. Simply put, instead of just reading, thinking, and talking about civic issues, we ask students to do something about them. Past projects include Pride Parades to celebrate 2SLGBTQ+ peers and a “Not-Bored with Board Games” event to connect students with intellectual disabilities with their peers and promote social inclusion.

Take a look at students working on their ACI projects throughout the years!

In early 2020, we were preparing for the most impactful year yet for our Civics program. Like all education providers, the impact of COVID-19 was tremendous and changed how we deliver our programs; our facilitators could no longer go into the classroom, and we lost face-time with students. As a result, in 2020, with support from our long-time partners at the OCDSB, we focused on adapting the DILA program to a blended and interactive online delivery method. 

This adaptation also came with a rebrand  – DILA is now called the Active Citizenship Initiative.

Here's what's different....

Same Approach. Different Methods

Our Civics program’s approach has always been, and still is, simple: let youth do something about something for their community.  Starting in 2021, however, instead of going into the classroom, our Active Citizenship Initiative facilitators will now guide teachers through engaging their students in active citizenship. We have created online lesson plans, resources, and support videos for both our 3-step and 8-step Active Citizenship Initiative.

Using Community Challenges for Learning

And, we’re taking this one step further… Instead of having students work on any issue under the sun, why not guide them towards taking action on specific, tangible, and local community issues? We’re working with local non-profit organizations, grassroots groups, and Ottawa City Councillors to create short and punchy Community Challenge Videos on an Ottawa-based issue of their choice. Students taking part in the Active Citizenship Initiative in their Civics class will review the videos and choose which issue they want to address with their action project. These videos will be used across all of our programs to better connect student projects to their communities.

These challenge videos aren’t introducing different issues than the issues youth usually choose to work on, but the same issues with specific Ottawa contexts, such as climate change, food insecurity, mental health, homelessness, 2SLBGTQ+ rights and more!.

Community Challenges

Below, we’ve shared the first Community Challenges videos we have created (with many more to come - see below if you would like to work with us to create one!):

Mathieu Fleury – City Councillor for Rideau-Vanier Ward 

Civics Issue: Recreational Opportunities for Low-income Youth and Families

Community Challenge: What can we do so that every youth in our city that wants to participate in sports can do so in their neighbourhoods?

Rawlson King – Ottawa City Councillor for Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward

Civics Issue: Food Insecurity

Community Challenge: What can you do to reduce the need for food
banks in our city?

Kaeden Seburn – Trans and Gender Diverse Student Support Coordinator, OCDSB Equity Program

Civics Issue: Gender Identity & Inclusivity

Community Challenge: How can you create resources for peers and staff to learn more about Trans, Gender Diverse and 2SLGTBQ+ identities and experiences?

Catherine McKenney – Ottawa City Councillor for Somerset Ward & City Liaison for Housing and Homelessness

Civics Issue: Housing & Homelessness

Community Challenge: In January 2020, we declared a housing and homelessness emergency in the City of Ottawa. How can you ensure that the people who represent you hear from you, and how can you make sure that affordable housing is always included in new housing developments?

Shawn Menard – City Councillor for Capital Ward & Vice-Chair of the Environment Committee

Civics Issue: Climate Change

Community Challenge: Climate change is the most significant risk facing the city of Ottawa. Reach out to your elected representatives either through a letter or email and tell them why climate change justice is important for your future.

What's next?

Are you interested in creating a Community Challenge Video with us? Or are you interested in having your Civics students create action projects around these Community Challenge Videos? Connect with us to find out how by emailing [email protected]