“Choose Your Own Path” at the JRHS Community Fair

by Dan Mullins

John Rennie High School recently held the “Choose Your Own Path” Community Fair. The event helped students see what their community could offer them, and what they could offer their community.

Every student was invited to attend the event. Over 1,300 JRHS students had the opportunity to tour the gym during the three hours the fair was running. Each grade was allotted half an hour, with the Sports Etudes program participating as well.

The 21 community groups that participated were stationed at kiosks in the main gym and represented a cross section of organizations that are relevant to a high-school-aged population in the West Island of Montreal.

“The JRHS Community Fair was an opportunity for our students to meet representatives from local non-profit community organizations,” said Mirella Fuga, Rennie’s guidance counsellor and a key organizer of the event.

“Students were invited to find out how to get involved in their community in order to make a difference for others,” she continued, “or to find services to help themselves and their families. We are thrilled that so many organizations were able to join us and share what they do with our students!”

Prior to the pandemic, JRHS had hosted a Health Fair organized around the concept of FLASH (Friendship, Love, And Sexual Health.) Following the pandemic, they decided to shake things up a bit, and settled on the Community Fair. Having previously had issues when holding the event during lunch hour resulted in a smaller turn-out, organizers decided to see if it could be held during class time. The staff council was enthusiastic about the idea.

The school’s organizing committee included Eve Marie Durand (vice principal), Massimo Venturino (YMCA youth worker), Beverly Landry (Spiritual and Community Animator), along with Ms. Fuga. School principal Jennifer Kurta supported the initiative throughout.

Students clearly enjoyed the event (many were especially enthusiastic about the therapy dogs,) community groups provided positive feedback, with “surprisingly little constructive criticism,” as Ms. Fuga modestly phrased it.

The groups in attendance were:

Action Jeunesse de l’Ouest-de-l’Île (street outreach work) 

Aire ouverte Ouest-de-l’Île (whole-person health and wellness services for and with youth)

ANEB Québec (help and support for people with eating disorders and for their loved ones)

Big Brothers/Big Sisters (mentoring relationships)

Camp LIFT (promote academic perseverance by encouraging healthy lifestyle habits)

Canadian Armed Forces (military forces of Canada)

Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi de L’ Ouest de l’Ile de Montréal (social reintegration, job search, back to school)

CLSC Ouest de L’Ile de Montéal (broad range of health-related care and services)

Corbeille de pain (food security resource)

Friends for Mental Health/Les Amis de la Santé Mentale (support and other resources for those close to a person with a mental health issue)

Imagine Therapy Dogs (a non-profit organization helping the community with therapy dogs)

LOVE Quebec (healthy relationships and emotional intelligence)

Maison des jeunes de Pierrefonds (West Island drop-in center offering activities to youth)

On Rock (community resource dealing with food insecurity)

Place Cartier (Adult Education Centre)

Science Yourself! No G’s About It! (Aerospace Education)

SPVM PDQ 05 (Pointe-Claire/Dorval Police Station)

West Island CALACS (advocacy, violence and sexual assault prevention)

West Island LGBTQ2+ Center (safe and welcoming meeting environment for LGBTQ+ community)

YMCA West Island (community centre)

Youth Stars (motivate youth and convey positive learning messages, foster life skills, healthy living habits)