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Two St. Gregory Catholic School Students Present at PEC Council on Food Scarcity and Affordable Housing

May 25, 2023

Image of presenters, school staff and PEC municipality staff

Curiosity Creates Change for St. Gregory Catholic School Grade 7 and 8 students, two of whom presented at the Prince Edward County (PEC) council meeting today on the topics of food scarcity and affordable housing in the area.

Students Violet Dickie and Paulina Mayall provided solutions to council on these two issues that their classmates and themselves have been researching since February. The Board-wide program, Curiosity Creates Change (C3), focuses on intermediate student inquiry into STEM-based learning.

Two students presenting

L-R: V
iolet Dickie, Paulina Mayall.

“Learning about the housing crisis in PEC has taught me to look closer at problems and issues in my community. I have learned that the youth need a voice and we have some great ideas to promote change," said Grade 8 student, Paulina Mayall.
Some solutions are to create more community gardens, expansions of food banks and farmers' markets, establish sustainable routes to support more affordable housing options in the rural areas of PEC, and a mandatory requirement that all new subdivisions have a tiny home component for affordability and diversity of housing type.

The students received positive feedback from councillors, who invited them and their classmates to come back and share their thoughts and further research on affordable housing as well as other topics.

Image of presenters, school staff and PEC municipality staff

L-R: Charles Dowdall, Director of Affordable Housing Corporation for Prince Edward County, Principal of St. Gregory Catholic School, Tracy Thomlinson, St. Gregory CS students: Violet Dickie (Grade 7), Paulina Mayall (Grade 8), Grade 7/8 Teacher Nick DiTomaso, Prince Edward County Mayor, Steve Ferguson, and Elis Ziegler Housing Programs and Services Assistant.

This project began shortly after the Director of Housing for Prince Edward County, Charles Dowdall, visited the two classes on affordable housing in February.

“The students in our intermediate classes are passionate about their community of Prince Edward County. When they were given the chance to look closer at their future and the future of their community, they were inspired to ask some deep questions about the housing crisis and then brainstorm solutions," said Nick DiTomaso, Grade 7/8 teacher.

Grade 7 and 8 students

Grade 7 and 8 students in Nick DiTomaso and Carsyn Poulain's classes.

This inspiration was further supported by Dowdall's mentorship. The two classes started looking at the aspects of PEC that they love and want to celebrate, and then assessed the areas of the community that they see as challenges.

“The opportunity to work with my classmates, solving problems and looking at solutions, inspires me to make a change in the future," said Violet Dickie.
The educators and students have embraced inquiry learning and the Board's C3 goals. The curiosity that was demonstrated through the learning around affordable housing by the intermediates at St. Gregory CS, will make change in the community.