Catholic Student Trustee, Josephine Purcell (right) and Will Menard, student senate member from St. Thomas Aquinas CHS at the Just-Us Youth Day 2019.

The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario hosted its annual Just-Us Youth Day on Tuesday, November 5, a symposium for nearly 250 Grade 10 students from across the Board’s ten secondary schools. The day gives students an opportunity to learn about the good work being done by not-for-profit organizations and individuals committed to social justice initiatives. Each year the presentations are developed around a theme; this year’s theme was “Water for All,” a call for students to consider the significance of water as a resource and necessity for life.

Catholic Student Trustee, Josephine Purcell, along with Will Menard, student senate member from St. Thomas Aquinas CHS, outlined the specifics of the day, which acts to inspire students to become informed and act on social justice causes. Students began the morning with a liturgy, followed by a keynote address by Jacob Moon.

“CDSBEO students were truly blessed to host Jacob Moon at this year’s Just-Us Youth Day,” began Student Trustee Purcell. “Not only is Jacob a wonderful musician, he also brought forward a truly inspirational message about his personal experiences with involvement in social justice initiatives.”

“Students attended workshops in the afternoon, which delved deeper into the water theme,” noted Will Menard. “The students were given practical ways they can make a difference on a local and international level.”

Water Rangers, hosted an interactive session which challenged students to consider water chemistry, water testing, and issues affecting water. Development and Peace provided a thoughtful session which used video clips, activities and discussion to reflect on Catholic social teaching and water as a human right and a sacred gift that should not be exploited for profit. Ryan’s Well shared the inspiring story of founder Ryan Hreljac and facilitated an interactive workshop to teach students about the global water crisis, and Jacob Moon shared how faith can be a source of hope, and an inspiration to listen to God’s call.

The day was organized and facilitated at all levels by the Catholic Student Senate and the Department of Religious and Family Life Education. The Senate has representation from all CDSBEO Catholic secondary schools under the leadership of Trustee Purcell. The planning and organizing of the event gave the students an opportunity to demonstrate their leadership skills.

Trustee Purcell noted, “I’m so proud I was able to be part of such a great day. Witnessing our Student Senate work together to ensure that this day ran smoothly was certainly a highlight for me. The keynote speaker and the session leaders have inspired all of us to put our faith into action.”

“Students in our school system are constantly encouraged to live as examples of our Catholic faith. Students and staff of the CDSBEO are truly social justice warriors.”

“You are certainly great ambassadors for our Board, and on behalf of Trustees I would like to thank you Trustee Purcell and the Student Senate, for your leadership with this event,” concluded Chair Lalonde.

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