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Thorold Secondary's 'Believe Leadership' course creates community leaders of tomorrow

The projects to come out of the course this semester include a bottle drive to benefit Community Care and a movie hour for teenagers struggling with mental health
Believe Leadership
Teagan Gidney and Dawson Messervey raised $255 dollars for Community Care

A bottle drive put on by two 9th graders at Thorold Secondary School amassed $255 for Community Care last weekend.

It’s just one of the many inspiring projects to come out of Thorold Secondary’s ‘Believe Leadership’ course this semester.

“The Believe Leadership Initiative was founded by Canadian Olympian Sarah Wells,” says Jennifer Brens, who is the supervising teacher of the course.

“It’s known all over North America. A student named Morgan Plourde actually wanted to spearhead this at Thorold Secondary and I was asked to be the staff advisor for the group.”

The goal of the course, which takes place over nine weeks, is to teach teenagers how to strengthen their communities.

Says Brens, “They come up with a passion project that would have a positive impact on our community. It starts off with brainstorming about what you’re passionate in, how can we channel that to build something and create something that could impact your community in a positive way.”

The projects that came out of the course this semester are all different in size and scope, but they all seek to help others.

“One was called ‘Warmth for Winter’ and what they did was create care packages for the homeless and they were able to pass these on to Community Care and shelters in the area,” says Brens.

“Another passion project was ‘Movies for Mental Health’ and this is more of a school community initiative, where teenagers that are struggling can watch some feel-good movies with a group of people. And one was ‘Art for All’. They were able to create art projects using the pride flag.”

Then there was the bottle drive to benefit Community Care, put on by grade 9 students Teagan Gidney and Dawson Messervey.

“There are families who aren’t able to have a good Christmas, who can’t afford presents or a good meal. We figured since it’s Christmas and some families might need the support it was a good place to donate to, to get it to families that need it,” says Messervey.

After putting a poster on social media and collecting bottles at Gidney’s house, the pair exchanged them in the Beer Store for a total amount of $255 dollars.

“It’s been good,” says Gidney. “I would definitely do the (course) again if I have the chance to.”

“I’d like to do something bigger in the future but I think it’s a good start,” concurs Messervey.

Brens thinks the process of supervising the students as they gain confidence and become community leaders is a very rewarding one.

Says Brens, “It’s crazy. There were students at the very beginning, and they start out and they’re all scared because they have to present something in front of people. There was one student who was terrified, couldn’t even look me in the eyes when I was speaking to them, and they just got up in front of the room today and were able to talk about their passion project. I was so proud.”

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Bernard Lansbergen

About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
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