The Caring Continues at Horizon High

by Dan Mullins

A story we’ve been following at the Pearson News has a brand new installment.

As many read in our article in the January 2022 issue, for several years the Leadership students at Horizon High have been helping people in need. In December, we wrote about their change of focus from helping unhoused people to helping children in care.
Gwen Jakobi explained that she and her fellow Leadership students “found it important to think of the kids beyond the holidays,” and so their work has continued. “It’s needed. They need care, they need to feel loved and helped out,” she says.

In their most recent effort, the students have been filling tote bags with essential but fun and individually selected items that they feel children in care would benefit from. The totes themselves are personalized, the result of a collaboration between the students and Promo 21, a neurodiverse workplace that provides silk-screening services. The tote bags feature the children’s initials. Because there are clear privacy concerns regarding children in care, students in Louise Pion’s Leadership class do not know the full names of the children they are helping. This hasn’t stopped them from gaining a sense of who they are though.

Ms. Pion said that Batshaw Youth and Family Centres, the organization responsible for the children, “did a great job of putting together a profile of each of the kids in care.” Information Batshaw provided to the school included the children’s favorite colours, things they liked, their age, and much more. Working with this information, the leadership students were able to select fonts, graphics and colour choices to send to Promo 21. There, Jabbaar Charles, an employee at the company and founder Martin Gould’s Right-hand Man was able to put the Photoshop skills he’s learned to good use, returning custom silkscreened totes to Horizon.

At the beginning of the project, there were fourteen children in care who were involved in the project, two per Leadership student. As several children have moved or left care, the class is now responsible for filling eleven totes. The leadership class collaborated with Batshaw on selecting what items would fill the tote bags, for example a blanket and pillowcase.
Ms. Jakobi is responsible for two children’s totes. “KC is 10,” she says, “and LP is eight. LP’s bag has a unicorn on it and is getting a nice pink and purple blanket. Kids in care sometimes receive second-hand pillowcases and blankets,” she points out, “so it’s nice for them to have things of their own that they can carry with them and that will be large enough for them to grow into.”

Tote bags sent to the children will also include one completely personalized item that matches the specific tastes and needs of a child. There will also be a handmade personalised bookmark, made by the students of Horizon’s Ed-Venture program.
According to Ms. Pion and Ms. Jakobi, students participating in the project are learning practical skills like working on a timeline, planning, and budgeting. They are also learning what is arguably the more important lesson: How good it feels to help others, and how important it is.