Knowing I am passionate about extending my knowledge on issues around the globe and in our own community, my friend suggested I read an article that was given to her to read in her Health Studies class. It is titled “Canada’s Worst Neighbourhood” and it is an article discussing the poverty and violence in Regina’s neighbourhoods. One resident of the inner city states that they are living in their own third world country with disastrous amounts of poverty and drug addictions and youth as young as 13 prostituting themselves. When I read this article I was shocked; Saskatchewan is known for its farming, rider fans and friendly people, not for its great deal of crime and poverty. As citizens of Regina, we need to open our minds to the issues surrounding us.
Last February while living in the Toronto area, we volunteered at a school in downtown Hamilton. This school was in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Ontario and it was right across from the Hamilton Tiger Cats stadium. While we were there we worked with their leadership program and helped out in some of their classes. This school was one that the kids that all the other schools didn’t want went to; kids out of jail, poverty stricken kids, orphans and troubled kids. Most of them ate breakfast and lunch at the school (provided by the school lunch program) and didn’t eat again until school the next day, and I walked home with a few who lived in a youth shelter. The majority of the teachers at this school didn’t care about the students because they had given up on the students as much as the students had given up on themselves. Most of the students were at a grade 4 or 5 reading and writing level at the age of 19. There was this one exceptional teacher who ran their leadership program, and he related so well to the students because he grew up in the same neighbourhood and dealt with the same issues as most of the students have. This class was full of students who have been through more than I could possibly imagine in my life; deaths, drug addictions, family problems and abuse but those students were so amazing to work with. This one teacher was the light to most of these students days; he treated them as equals and he gave them the hope and love these kids needed and that is why most of them went to school every day.
Every time I think of a teacher, I think of him because as teachers we need to focus on what we are teaching our students and making sure they learn, but I also think we need to display some leadership and care in our classrooms. Being a teacher allows that room for students to look up to you, and for you to possibly influence them. Since we have that ability why wouldn’t we use it? Let’s show our students we care and be there for them because learning takes place in all forms, not just from the textbooks.
Check out this article and possibly donate your time to our own city, because developing countries aren’t the only ones that need hope and love.