Youth Justice Project Supports Young Changemakers

Students stand outside Unity Christian School near the new bins purchased with a grant from Diaconal Ministries.
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The students at Unity Christian School in Chilliwack, B.C., are committed to being good stewards of God’s creation. When the seventh-grade class began seeing the effects of improper waste disposal globally and locally, they began exploring ways in which they could actively participate in providing solutions to the problem of waste. While it was an overwhelming issue, they quickly realized they needed to start with their own school.

“Students saw the need to change the way Unity dealt with their garbage,” Julia, a former student, shared. “There were no bins to sort our waste; this gave us no choice but to toss our compost and recycling into the garbage.”

The class started small by collecting garbage and recycling, and also composting in the middle school area. The class continued their mission to be good earthkeepers by coming up with several ideas to help educate other students about where to put their waste and by adding new bins outside for access by students eating there.

As a result, these changes have now become a collaborative, school-wide effort. For example, each year the fifth-grade students do their part by collecting refundable bottles, to keep more waste out of the landfills. On top of that, the elementary and high school divisions joined the efforts the following year.

“I think that the changes we have made are greatly important,” Miles, an eighth-grader, said. “God tells us in the Bible to take care of the creation that he has made for us. It is important for us to carry out the work that God has given to us.”

One way the students at Unity were able to accomplish many of their creation care activities was through a grant from the Youth Justice Project (YJP), an initiative of the NewGround Program of Diaconal Ministries Canada. They also received funding from the City of Chilliwack and support from the deacons at Heartland CRC.

“The YJP provides young people with coaching, relational support, and encouragement as they put their ideas for making a difference into action,” Rachel Vroege, Diaconal Ministries’ regional ministry developer, said. “Through this process of learning about injustice and being nurtured into responding through their faith community, young people are encouraged to be incredible changemakers.”

Nathan Boersma, vice principal of Unity, shared his appreciation for the partnership and, more specifically, to Vroege for approaching and encouraging their school to apply. “We want to express our sincere gratitude to NewGround for offering this grant money. This and other projects have helped our students become locally active and give their time and effort to raise awareness for important causes that directly affect our community. Our students are actively living out their desire to care for God's world and to love their neighbors as themselves.”

For more information on NewGround and/or the Youth Justice Project, visit diaconalministries.com/newground or call (800) 730-3490 x4304.

About the Author

Erin Knight, Communications Coordinator, Diaconal Ministries Canada

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