Making a positive impact on the lives of local youth. This is one of the amazing learning outcomes for third-year Child & Youth Studies students at Trent University Durham GTA thanks to a collaborative partnership with TeachingCity. And who better to tackle issues facing today’s youth, than young adults who have devoted their educational careers to helping them?
City Idea Lab is a course-based project within TeachingCity, an initiative that unites the City of Oshawa with education and research partners to address urban issues. Among other projects, Trent collaborated with TeachingCity last year to support at-risk youth. This year’s project tasks our students with ensuring youth voices are represented through an increasingly diverse and robust Oshawa Youth Council.
Career Development Through Service Learning is a half-credit course that takes our Child and Youth Studies students to work at the TeachingCity Hub in downtown Oshawa. Here, they engage with real-world experts, city staff and an instructor to identify barriers such as travel challenges that may prohibit youth involvement in council. Next term, they will apply their academic, critical thinking and communication skills to seek tangible, theory-driven solutions backed by research. We anticipate many will carry the momentum of this project into their fourth-year practicum next year.
Professionally speaking, students also learn to navigate the working world, present their ideas, and achieve attainable solutions while adhering to realities of budgets and scope. They can also envision what their future careers may look like.
The city benefits from working with really motivated, creative young adults who are invested in the community. The purpose of the youth council is to ensure that youth voices are heard and concerns are addressed. I believe if you hear the voices of children and youth, they recognize that they matter. They become more civically minded. That’s really how a community grows and prospers.
Come see for yourself. At the end of each term, in December and in the spring, students present their final product at the annual City Idea Lab Idea Showcase. They also encounter a real sense of achievement. The prospect of real change is palpable. The excitement is electric.
Dr. Alba Agostino is an assistant professor in the Child & Youth Studies program at Trent University Durham GTA. She holds a B.A., M.A., Ph.D. from York University. Her research interests include the development of children’s early number sense and identifying early cognitive precursors of low math achievers to aid the development of early intervention programs. In 2018, Prof. Agostino was awarded with an Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance Teaching Award.