It takes a team to build a village, as Fort McMurray residents know all too well. It has been more than two years since the wildfire tore through the Albertan city, and many people have done their part to help the community move on past the devastation.
One such individual is 10-year-old Sydnee Parent, with the 9th Fort McMurray Cub Pack, who is being recognized for her student and volunteer leadership skills as well as community service to her school.
As part of her Scouts capstone community service project in achieving her Top Section “Seeonee” Award, Sydnee is not only attaining outdoor leadership skills, she is learning to give back and has been helping École Boréal, her Francophone school in Fort McMurray, replace all of its library books.
Because the school is located in the Abasand area, which was largely affected from the wildfire, the staff and students were relocated to another school for the majority of the 2016-2017 school year. When they returned to their school, they had to throw away everything, including all their library books, due to smoke damage.
With help from her mom, Kourtney, a Scouter who has been volunteering with Scouts Canada since 2013, Sydnee was able to raise $600 of her own money through various means: For her seventh, eighth and ninth birthday parties, she requested donations instead of gifts. She also held a bottle drive and a garage sale.
With the money, Sydnee and her school were then able to raise even more funds after applying to the Indigo Adopt a School Program, which puts books into the hands of children at high-needs elementary schools.
“Through Adopt-a-School, Sydnee and her school have held their own fundraisers and have been able to raise more than $1,000 online as well as through a Coles in-store fundraiser. Every dollar raised gets put under the school’s name and with the money the school can order new books,” says Kourtney.
As a Scouts volunteer leader, Kourtney has participated in a number of volunteer activities and has assisted Sydnee in numerous ways. This includes helping her with her computer and English written skills, driving her to pick up bottles and helping her apply for the Adopt-a-School program. She has also set up and managed social media accounts to promote the program and attended a meeting to morally support Sydnee when she spoke with her school principal, Sonia Coulombe, about her fundraising ideas.
“Sydnee also asked me to speak with the school to ask the students to draw and colour their dream library and vote on their top 5 favourite books,” says Kourtney, adding she has enjoyed all the volunteer opportunities Scouts Canada has afforded her to support, provide leadership to, and spend quality time with not only her own children but others as well.
“The Scouting organization allows youth to have life experiences they may not find elsewhere. The skills these youth acquire, will help them in today's society,” she says. “I have made new friends and learnt new skills. As a Scouts Canada volunteer, I feel that my role is successful if I have made a positive influence in the life of at least one youth.”
More recently, Sydnee, Kourtney and her school principal went to the Coles bookstore in Fort McMurray to donate the money Sydnee and her classmates raised from various school fundraisers. In total, after the program ended, Sydnee and the community raised over $5,900.
"Sydnee's project has had a fantastic impact on our school already,” says Principal Coulombe. “The children were so excited to participate in her project by wearing a hat on one day and paying $1 to participate as well as wearing their pyjamas and class colours. About 40 parents and students enjoyed a movie night as well. It will be amazing when we have all our books in place. Reading has such a huge impact on children's academic success and the fact that we will have a larger variety of books to offer will be amazing."
Scouts Canada not only offers adults and youth opportunities to learn more about the outdoors and make new friendships, it provides volunteer leadership skills, so that all Scouts and Scouters can become better citizens by following the Canadian Path. Find out what volunteer groups are available in central and northern Alberta and NWT by visiting Scouts Canada’s Northern Lights Council. In southern Alberta, visit Scouts Canada’s Chinook Council.