For the second year in a row as part of the EcoYouth project, members of Concordia’s student organization Enactus, are working to make a difference by providing children with the knowledge and skills to grow and cook their own food.
EcoYouth is a project started by William Atsaidis, a third year Marketing student at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business. The aim of EcoYouth is to provide elementary school children with the opportunity to learn how to garden and the importance of eating right. Currently the group operates out of the Concordia greenhouse where they supply the children with the knowledge and skills to care for the plants.
The project works in partnership with Innovation Youth, a local youth center. Children from the youth center come three times a week to the Concordia greenhouse located on the 13th floor of the Hall building, to fulfill their commitment to an Urban Agriculture program. The students aged 9-10, work hand in hand with volunteers to learn about the basics of gardening and nutrition. In addition to gardening, the students learn to cook with what they grow. The proceeds of their cooking goes to supply a homeless center at the St. James drop in center.
Over the past year the organization has taught over 30 adolescent volunteers how to maintain and run an outdoor garden. Throughout their work they have managed to enrich the curriculum of the youth center. Additionally they have provided the youths with the tools to encourage self-development for sustainable food.
According to Jenna Smith, the director of Innovation Youth, the program has provided the organization with access to green space, something difficult to find in the downtown core.
“We’ve diagnosed a need that’s been there for years and now were actually doing something about it.”
This year EcoYouth is looking to expand their presence in the community. The organization currently relies solely on its one location at Concordia’s greenhouse at the Sir George William campus. However, they envision creating a second location with their own greenhouse. According the Atsaidis, the organization is seeking to expand their operations outside of the downtown core. The group is seeking to find a new youth center to partner with in order to expand operations. Currently Enactus Concordia is responsible for providing the funding and resources for the project. Due to the success of the current program they believe that it will be possible to create a second location by the end of the year.
Enactus is an international student run non-profit organization with 1,600 chapters at different universities around the world. The organization strives to create community-oriented projects designed to emphasize environmental and social responsibility. This past year, Enactus Concordia won the Forces Avenir, “Le project par excellence au Quebec” award for 2013.
For information on ways to help, please contact William Atsaidis at email@example.com.