Bluewater District School Board

Bluewater's National Volunteer Week 2022 page

National Volunteer Week 2022

National Volunteer Week 2022
Posted on 04/25/2022
BWDSB ad for National Volunteer Week, April 24-30, 2022 with board logo on blue background and graphic of raised hands with message: "THANK YOU to our many dedicated volunteers whose helping hands make a positive difference each day in the lives of our students and staff!" During National Volunteer Week, Bluewater District School Board is recognizing the many amazing volunteers in our local schools whose efforts and generosity support student success and well-being.

From school councils and those supporting fundraising, sporting activities, trips, and events, to the volunteers who assist with nutrition and learning programs, it would be a truly impossible task to adequately thank these dedicated ambassadors of school spirit.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many traditional volunteer opportunities in public education saw a decline as school boards worked to comply with health and safety protocols that limited the number of visitors in schools.  Though despite the restrictions of the past two years, nutrition programs managed to stay the course in a reduced capacity.

The continued success of school nutrition programs can be directly attributed to the valiant efforts of volunteers.  Ontario Student Nutrition Program (OSNP) Grey Bruce, which operates through a base of volunteers supported by local school board and public health representatives, provides healthy breakfast, lunch, and snack options daily to all 42 Bluewater District School Board school locations.

Volunteers have been the backbone of school nutrition programs, performing a range of hands-on responsibilities, such as grocery shopping, food preparation, serving, and clean-up duties.  Their varied tasks have also extended to the administrative functions of record keeping, fundraising, meeting a budget, and volunteer organization.

Elizabeth Charlton, who is the breakfast club coordinator at East Ridge Community School in Owen Sound, is quite familiar with the many requirements of a successful nutrition program.  With 10 years of volunteer experience dating back to the former Bayview Public School, Elizabeth has been instrumental in building a multi-faceted program offering a central serving location in the school, and classroom delivery model for convenient access during instruction.

“I feed 100 kids to feed the one who needs it.  Breakfast club for all reduces the stigma,” says Elizabeth to address how equity is central to the program at East Ridge.  Nutrition programs also support concentration and learning for all students, while helping with stress management and reducing behaviour issues.

With the recent lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions, those involved in school nutrition programs are working to regain volunteer numbers enjoyed in pre-pandemic days.  According to Elizabeth, she would typically have three to five adults handling preparation, and approximately six volunteers, including students, tasked with serving.  Returning to this format is a welcome change after a shift in approach during the height of restrictions in favour of pre-packaged snacks that students would pick up on their way to class.  Until recently, hot foods were paused with fewer adult volunteers allowed, and no opportunity for student involvement.

As we inch our way back to a semi-normal pre-pandemic state, volunteers are slowly starting to return to schools to resume doing what they love.  Whether it is nourishing our students through a nutrition program or assisting in other areas of school life, schools are especially eager and grateful for the help.  Elizabeth hopes new and previous volunteers will consider signing themselves up for next year and cites the many positive benefits to student success and well-being that result from volunteering.  Aside from the health aspects offered by a nutrition program, students increase their socialization with peers and the chance to build community and get involved.  Allowing students to work collaboratively with adult volunteers can also lead to service awards, while those in secondary school accumulate community involvement hours that count towards graduation.

Anyone interested in exploring volunteer opportunities in Bluewater District School Board is encouraged to contact one of our schools directly.  Visit www.bwdsb.on.ca for our elementary and secondary school listings.
Bluewater District School Board is located on the traditional land of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, which is represented by the communities of Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.
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