McKay Public School earns Fair Trade School of the Year award
The members of McKay Public School’s Fair Trade Committee are happy that all their hard work has paid off. McKay Public School was named “Fair Trade School of the Year” recently at The Canadian Fair Trade Network conference in Halifax, N.S.
McKay Public School in Port Colborne has received a very prestigious award, they received the Fair Trade School of the Year Award at The Canadian Fair Trade Network conference in Halifax, N.S. two weekends ago.
“This is a really big deal,” Jenn Vanderlaan, co-chair McKay Public School Fair Trade Committee said.
What makes McKay the Fair Trade School of the Year?
“I think it was all the education that we have been doing around Fair Trade,” explained Amber Minor, co-chair McKay Public School Fair Trade Committee. “A lot of it is student led, students are learning through the Fair Trade culture and movement we have created at McKay.”
McKay Public School became the first Fair Trade School in Ontario in June 2016.
“The kids are taking on projects, whenever they get an assignment in class, they are opting to do Fair Trade related projects/assignments,” Minor said.
“We have a coding club at the school now where the students are working on an application, building an app for phones,” she said. “There is just a bunch of ‘above and beyond’ stuff they are doing.”
“The biggest piece is the education piece where we are tacking it in with different lessons, assemblies, speakers,” she said. “The kids are just taking it right to heart, making their own projects and stuff.”
“We build it into special events,” Vanderlaan said. “For example our Winter Carnival, we built Fair Trade into that, selling Fair Trade products there.”
“It is kind of embedded into everything that we do around here,” she said.
They were up against 12 schools across Canada for the award, a number that keeps changing as more schools get on board with the program.
Minor and Vanderlaan also hosted a workshop at the conference.
“The entire weekend was filled with lots of little break-out sessions,” Minor said. “We offered a break-out session attended by about 40 people and talked about what our school is doing and how we have integrated fair trade into the education at our school. They got really excited about it and said to us ‘This is why you were picked as the Fair Trade School of the Year because you are doing so much, it’s very exciting and very inspiring, hopefully other schools can learn from you and go forward and get involved.’”
“I think they were impressed that this is being done at the elementary school level,” Vanderlaam added. “It really impressed them that all this was being done at such a young age.”
The students of McKay Public School understand the importance of this award.
“I think it is a great honour to accept because this is a big step for our school,” grade five student Madi Busby, of the school’s Fair Trade Committee said.
The future for the school continues to be education.
“I think our main goal is to get our message out,” grade seven student Rebekah Hofstee, of the school’s Fair Trade Committee. “The more schools we can get on board means more students, the more students we know. More people will be going home saying ‘Why don’t we buy Fair Trade bananas?’ instead of normal bananas. Then it will just spread.”
“Everyone needs to know about it,” she said. “Before I came to this school I didn’t even know anything about it.”
“It’s everywhere in the school, in our hallways, in our classrooms, we have posters and lessons about it,” she said. “It is more out there now.”
“Since we have won the award which is the best in Canada, number one, it’s amazing,” Busby said. “It’s all because of the education and that we are dealing in Fair Trade objects every day.”
To the students of McKay Public School Fair Trade has now become a lifestyle according to Busby, something they are passionate about and happy to implement the lessons into their daily lives.