Recently, five groups of M3 (Grade 9) students participated in the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative Canada Final event at the John and Margaret Withrow Hall (UTS) auditorium. The competition was an opportunity to demonstrate the research and presentation skills, as well as awareness of critical social issues, these students developed while preparing in their Geography classes.
The YPI Canada Final is an annual tradition at UTS. The event requires students to learn about social issues and the charities that seek to address them. In front of a panel of judges, made up primarily of other youth, teams of students make the case to receive a $5,000 award for the charity of their choice. This year, YPI partnered with the Maytree Foundation to apply a human rights lens to students’ exploration of social issues, which led to the UTS groups choosing human rights-focused charities to champion.
A who’s-who of key figures from charitable organizations, including Maytree, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, myBlueprint Partnerships, the Toronto Foundation, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Students Offering Support, attended the event. In front of this audience of experts, UTS students delivered impassioned and well-researched pitches that featured brilliant oratory and engaging visuals. While the judges deliberated, Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, participated in a student-led question-and-answer session, ensuring that students—and everyone else in attendance—left the event with a deeper understanding of human rights issues.
In the end, the group representing the Christie Refugee Welcome Centre got the nod from the judges and earned the $5,000 prize for their charity. But when a project engages students in human rights and social justice issues and strengthens partnerships between UTS and organizations like YPI Canada, truly all participants belong in the winner’s circle.