Teens keen to see the school board go greener need to get in gear if they want to represent their school at the district's first annual Sustainability Conference Jan. 21. Applications for youth head delegates from each secondary school are due Monday, Oct. 8. The conference is intended to educate participants about sustainability and to create a plan that would help the Vancouver School Board become a leader in this sphere. The conference will feature John Robinson from the University of B.C., who was recently named Canada's Environmental Scientist of the Year by Canadian Geographic, and Vanessa Timmer, co-host for the community cable TV show The Sustainable Region. For more information, see vsb-sustainabilityconference. com.
ARSON AND AVIVA
Sometimes it seems Class Notes should be re-dubbed Schools That Need to Replace Their Playgrounds. This time it's Sir Richard McBride elementary on East 29th Avenue near Knight Street. Students arrived at school two weeks ago to find their wooden playground charred. It's the third arson in two years, according to Christie Akhurst, the out of school care provider who's spearheading a drive to win a grant to replace the playground from the Aviva Community Fund. The school has applied to win at least $50,000 to rebuild the playground with safer materials that are less vulnerable to fire. Replacing the playground is estimated to cost between $60,000 and $70,000. Akhurst noted in a media release that it's not just the more than 350 children who attend the school who would lose a place to play without a new playground. "After school hours, neighbours for many blocks on every side of the school use our playground as a safe, free place to play," Akhurst said. "Many of the children are atrisk youth who do not have access to sports programs and extracurricular expenses." Winning projects are chosen by popular vote. The first round of voting runs until Oct. 15. The McBride community is asking Vancouverites to vote daily for their project. For more information, see facebook. com/VoteForOurPlayground.
CELLPHONES FOR AFRICA
After hearing about a Camosun College organization called Africa Calling that's dedicated to collecting unused cellphones and chargers and distributing them to poor people in rural Africa, Killarney secondary school students and staff launched their own drive to help out. Organizers hope the cellphones could be used as a medical lifeline, aid in regional development and to better connect needy family members separated from one another by vast distances. Canadian SIM cards can be replaced with cards based in Africa so phones can be easily used on African networks. Donated phones that have SIM cards that can't be removed will be given to women's shelters and social service agencies in Canada. Phones can be dropped off at the school at 6260 Killarney St. near Kerr Street. For more information, see africacalling.ca.
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