We take a holistic approach to Civic Literacy, with a focus on nurturing skills for effective self-advocacy. Our topics are driven by current events and our students’ interests and passions. Our learners explore varied subjects through guest speakers and field trips that provide hands-on learning opportunities and build community connections.
When students find a topic that ignites their passions, we will tailor programming around their interests and goals. This may culminate in a deputation to municipal council. Students’ interests often centre on improving areas of our community that have traditionally been under-served.
Staff help support students through conducting research; critical thinking and exchanging ideas; supporting their arguments with evidence; writing and editing their presentations; and rehearsing their delivery.
This is transformative work. Students develop tremendous confidence through the process, and rightly take pride in their results. Deputations by PELC students advocating for our community have resulted in:
- new sidewalks, lighting and a crosswalk on the Heights to enhance pedestrian safety
- establishing a municipal food security working group
- student feedback on the County’s Short-Term Accommodations (STA) draft plan
When food security emerged as student interest, we launched a project combining food literacy and community action: growing our own food!
PELC students started a community garden in 2020, led by volunteer Fionn Stanners. Participants maintained a plot at Delhi Park. A team of gardeners took turns watering, weeding and harvesting. Everyone shared in the harvest.
During the growing season, participants met weekly over Zoom. These learning sessions continued once a month through the winter. Students were able to continue growing at home through the winter, choosing houseplants based on their individual interests.
For the 2022 season, we focused our efforts on creating opportunities to grow food in the Heights — an empowering way to increase food security. We received permission from the County to move our community garden plot to the park in Macaulay Village. The group is led by our Youth Coordinator, Hale.
Youth Community Action Project (YCAP)
YCAP works to establish safe spaces for youth, and seed youth-identified activities in PEC, with support from the Municipal Community Grant Program and the Community & Economic Development Commission. Activities supported by YCAP include:
- Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA): a group of 2SLGBTQ+ high school students and allies who get together to be in a safe space during their lunch hour
- Inclusion Committee: student activists supporting the needs of marginalized communities within the high school, by working to create safer spaces
- Discover YOUth: a community hangout for 2SLGBTQ+ folks
- A mural at the Recreational Outreach Centre (ROC)
- Eagle Eye, a youth-produced newspaper at Athol-South Marysburgh School
Community Building Youth Futures (CBYF)
In 2022, we were invited to participate in CBYF, a youth-led initiative to raise high school graduation rates in Prince Edward County, funded by the Tamarack Institute.
The project is national in scope, with data collected across 20 participating Canadian communities. Through collaboration and consultation, communities are developing innovative approaches to youth engagement, and helping to identify policies and practices that remove barriers.
Metrics for success include:
- boosting school attendance;
- participation in different activities; and
- engagement with community resources.
Youth are at the centre of this process, with business, government, and youth-serving agencies all at the table. This exciting collective impact model is our most collaborative project to date! PELC is working closely with the ROC (Recreational Outreach Centre), the Students Commission of Canada, and the County Community Foundation.
Books for Kids
What better way to support literacy, and nurture a lifelong love of reading, than for families to read together? Through our partnership with County Kids Read, a selection of children’s books is available at PELC. During lockdown, we delivered literacy packages to 20 families across the County.
County Kids Read also has a free book pop-up twice a month at our PEC Fresh Good Food Market in Picton — typically the first and third Wednesday of each month. Shoppers can take home a free book with their fresh fruits and vegetables.
We also partnered with Prince Edward County Library and County Kids Read to host a Reading Round-Up on the Heights in September 2021. We repeated the event in July 2022 with a community barbecue. These are great opportunities for community engagement. Kids are happy to hear a story from the library, get their own library cards, and take home a free book!
During the first lockdown, as the world moved indoors and online, PELC focused on bolstering digital literacy. We conducted a digital audit to make sure our students had the tools to stay in touch with the rest of the world, and to participate in online learning, including:
- cellphone minutes
- internet connections
- training on using Zoom and FaceTime
Next, we researched funds in the community to help people meet their basic needs. We did two rounds of porch visits, helping our staff and student community maintain a feeling of connection during a time of isolation. Through these check-ins, and outreach through our free tax filing clinics, we distributed:
- gift cards for local grocery stores and the PEC Fresh Market
- literacy packages to families with children
- gift cards for basic needs
- County Transit bus passes
PRINCE EDWARD LEARNING CENTRE
Our Door is Open! Your Future is Bright!
97 Main Street, Unit 10 Rexall Plaza, Picton, ON K0K 2T0
Open 9am to 4pm, Monday to Thursday + 9am to noon Friday