Horizon and Place Cartier Students
Put Smiles on Faces

by Dan Mullins

Students from Horizon High School and Place Cartier were out in the community, making a difference in people’s lives, learning important job skills, having a good time, and putting smiles on faces. Literally.

The students were applying icing smiley faces to cookies to help with Tim Horton’s Smile Cookie Campaign, which was raising money for young adults on the autism spectrum via the Fondation Autiste & Majeur.

The project came about after Elissa Arif, who works closely with the Pre-Vocational group at Horizon, first thought the project would be a valuable learning experience for them.

Having seen that money was being raised for a good cause, she spoke to one of the owners of the Tim Horton’s, and things just clicked. “There was an opportunity for them to participate in a meaningful event and help the community,” she explained, “while getting out of the classroom, learning some employment skills, and adding to their C.V.”  As a school outreach worker with the Carrefour emploi-jeunesse de l’Ouest-de-l’île, building students’ employment skills and curriculum vitae are part of her raison d’etre.

“When you ask the students about helping people out,” said Elissa Arif, “their willingness is really inspiring.”

She told teachers at the school about it, and they immediately saw the value of participating. The plan was to schedule a different group to go to the restaurant on each day of the week. The Pre-Voc students formed a group, the Leadership students and the Junior students each formed another group, and Place Cartier students in the Thrive program (see a full article on the program in this month’s Pearson News here) and the school’s Breakfast Club volunteers rounded out the schedule.

The students would arrive at the restaurant and set up in the dining room, which was closed to the public at the time. They would put on gloves and an employee of the restaurant would bring out freshly baked cookies. The students would add a pink smile and two blue eyes made of icing to each cookie, have some fun, and connect with each other.

Trips to the restaurant to add sugary smiley-faces to cookies was not all the students did, however. For some, a major aspect of the project was sales within their own buildings — students, staff and members of the community could pre-order cookies. This meant advertising, setting up kiosks, creating shifts for workers at the kiosks, taking orders, making lists, preparing the orders, collecting money and distributing the cookies. These tasks require organization, accuracy, math, and good food handling and money handling skills.

The project wrapped up when the last of the cookies was distributed, which put even more smiles on even more faces, of course.

Ms. Arif was careful to point out that many people, staff and students, had contributed to the project.  “It was really a team effort,” she said. “I’m so grateful to the administration of both of these schools for the trust and freedom to undertake these projects.”

In addition to the donation of the labour that went into creating the cookies, the schools took in more than a thousand dollars in sales to their own community, selling the cookies for a dollar each. In the end, the combined donation from Quebec Tim Horton’s to the Fondation Autiste & Majeur was $173 320.48, and the donation to students’ enjoyment, wellbeing, and learning was invaluable.

Elissa Arif, School Outreach Worker, Carrefour emploi-jeunesse de l’Ouest-de-l’île

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