On November 22 an enthusiastic group of 4th year Lakehead students from the School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism facilitated an experiential "Planting Ideas" program with youth at the Underground Gym in Thunder Bay’s West Fort area. The program grew from a class project simply titled, “Do Something.” The goal as outlined by Dr. Ryan Howard (Assistant Professor In the School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism) was for the students to attempt to engage collectively in the challenge of positively changing the world.
The 23 Lakehead students set their sights on creating and delivering youth programming to empower our future citizens regarding issues of food security, healthy living, community engagement and creativity. Peter and the youth at the Underground Gym were more than willing to host the Lakehead students. As part of the program, LU students facilitated a number of group bonding activities that helped build a strong group atmosphere meaningfully connecting the youth with the Lakehead students. Through their intentional programming, the LU students did an excellent job at breaking down some of the barriers of youth buy-in and shyness. The LU students created a learning environment in which the youth were not bound by a static structure, Cayden (LU Student) remarked "it was unlike what many of us were used to working in traditionally, and it really opened our eyes to the importance of teaching and learning from a place of care and mutual respect."
The youth were extremely receptive, had an amazing time, learned about planting food, and each went home with a decorated and potted herb they each planted to watch grow and use in their future cooking. LU students remarked that they were happy to have had the opportunity to engage with this program, it forced them to imagine a better world, and do something to start realizing that dream. Taking even small steps towards changing the world for the better is vitally important, we saw that on the faces of every youth who participated in the program.