Community Involvement Program Question and Answer

Who does Community Involvement?

The Ministry of Education says that all students entering grade 9 during or after 1999-2000 must complete 40 hours of mandatory community involvement before graduating with a high school diploma. Policy Memorandum 124A clearly shows that the responsibility of completing the work lies with students and their parents. The school is not directly involved in finding placements for students or in monitoring students as they complete their work; the Board has created an information manual (PDF) as instructed by the government. Schools will provide information, will encourage discussion of the manual, will ask students to note their progress several times each year on the report card, and will record completed hours on the school transcript, the O.S.T.

How do I get information about the project?

The Upper Grand Community Involvement Information Manual (PDF) has been created to help parents and students understand the community involvement project. It was produced by a committee of teachers and administrators and includes input from volunteer agencies, parents, students and school board trustees.

Students are given a copy of the manual when they enter grade 9. The manual includes a form to help plan and record a student's involvement. When the work is completed, students are required to submit the "Community Involvement Activity Notification and Completion" form, signed by both a parent/guardian and community sponsor(s).

The manual is available from your school principal.

What are the Roles in the Community Involvement Project ?

The roles are quoted from Ministry Policy: Policy Memorandum 124A. These include roles for School Boards, Principals, Parents/Guardians and Students.

When can the work be completed?

All community involvement hours must be completed outside of school instructional time. Students have four years to complete the activities they select. All selected work must conform to the guidelines in the information manual. It is highly recommended that students begin work early in high school; homework and course loads usually increase in the senior years. Students are advised to make good use of their summers holidays, school breaks, weekends, lunch hours and after-school hours. It is strongly recommended that students submit their completed form (including student, parent/guardian, community sponsor signatures) before June 1 of their graduating year.

Where can the work be done?

A student may work in a variety of settings, including businesses, not-for-profit organizations, public sector institutions (including hospitals) and informal settings.

If a student wishes to participate in an activity or event that is not clearly within the Board's set of examples, and does not conform to the principles set out in the Information Manual (PDF), he/she must discuss this activity with the school Principal and get a signature before proceeding. In some cases, the Principal may forward the request to a Supervisory Officer of the Board for a decision as to the suitability of the activity.

It is wise to consult with the school Principal before the activity if the volunteer opportunity is not clearly within the guidelines in the manual.

Is Community Involvement the same as Co-Op, work experience or Community Service?

Students complete Co-Op and work experience as part of the instructional day and are given marks and credits for these experiences. Community Service is a term used by the government to describe government work programs and probation.

What are the stated values of community involvement?

The Ministry of Education states in its policy that Community Involvement is a chance to learn about jobs in the community, gain self-confidence, and get valuable work experience that employers seek. Students can dedicate their youthful energy and enthusiasm to local projects, and help others, thus making valuable contributions to their communities.

What activities are eligible and ineligible?

The manual (PDF) distributed and discussed with students at the schools was created by a committee, and was based on a government policy Memorandum 124A. The government created the list of ineligible activities, and asked the school boards to create the list of eligible activities, and make its own additions to the ineligible list. The draft manual was revised many times, adapted to include the ideas of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and trustees.

The eligible and ineligible activities mandated by the government and decided upon by the board can be found in the Community Involvement Manual (PDF), posted in its entirety on this website.

No list could ever be long enough to list all the activities that will be valued and counted. The list in the manual is intended to show the wide range of experiences that qualify as community involvement hours; other activities like these are acceptable as well, as long as they are not on the ineligible list, are unpaid, and are completed outside of school time. Make sure to discuss the activity with the school Principal before you begin if you are not sure of the selection. The "Community Involvement Activity Notification and Completion" must be signed by a parent/guardian before the completion of the work. Policy Memorandum 124A clearly states that the Principal will determine whether or not an activity will be counted. In some cases, the Principal may want to forward the request to a Supervisory Officer of the Board for a ruling/decision.

There is one very important issue Implied in the word "volunteerism" is the idea of giving generously to others without reward . If students are completing an activity with themselves in mind, like building a resume, trying to earn prizes and honorariums, getting in shape, meeting new friends, then this activity should be called "personal recreation". This concept is listed on the Ineligible list in your manual. The committee that created the Upper Grand District School Board's brochure has agreed that all recreational clubs, teams, choirs and groups fall into this category. However, if a team or club or group decides to help or organize a charitable activity for someone else, and a community sponsor can be found to sign for the group's activity, then the hours spent count as community involvement hours. Discuss the important distinction between "personal recreation" and "volunteerism" with your school advisor, guidance counselor and Principal; the school Principal is ultimately responsible , so do not begin a questionable activity without getting his/her signature on the "Community Involvement Activity Notification and Completion" sheet.

How can a small community find placements for all its student volunteers?

The list of activities in the brochure (PDF) shows that the type of activities approved by the Ministry and the Upper Grand District School Board are numerous and varied enough to allow a wide range of participation in the community, and to include activities that many students already do as active involved teenagers. Students in rural areas are encouraged to find opportunities within the schools, churches, and community centers.

A chart of volunteers in each area of the district is posted on this site; it should be valuable in helping you find the community sponsors who are eager to use the help of teenagers in your community. Many bulletin boards, newsletters and websites already have posted all kinds of opportunities for the youth in your area Many schools have a bulletin board set up to post ideas and contacts for parents/students.

How can safety be ensured?

Safety is of utmost concern. Parents should communicate with community sponsors and ensure that the responsibilities are appropriate to the age and experience of the participants. A parent must sign the "Community Involvement Activity Notification and Completion" form if the student is under the age of eighteen. As is true with any other volunteer, the community sponsor should discuss the work with the volunteer and decide whether the student has the attitude and the skill to contribute to the organization, club or institution. Any screening procedures and training normally used by an organization would likely be used with student volunteers; it would be helpful if parents assist their children with understanding the value of these procedures and rules, and make sure they are well understood.

Parents must understand that their child is not covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board in the event of personal injury. It is strongly recommended that parents/students purchase Student Accident Insurance, available in the schools each September. Visit the OSBIE site external sitefor more information (OSBIE is the Ontario School Boards' Insurance Exchange).

What if a volunteer or sponsor is unsatisfactory?

The actual number of completed hours is noted on the "Community Involvement Activity Notification and Completion" form with the signature of the sponsor. If sponsors are not satisfied with a student's work, they should give some constructive suggestions as to how work might be improved; one of the purposes of the project is for students to develop confidence and skill in civic responsibility. Community sponsors can play an important role in helping young people to have positive and rewarding experiences and learn how to work under supervision. Parents should share their experiences with community sponsors amongst themselves, and note any concerns to volunteer agencies and schools. It is important to remember that it is the parents'/guardians', not the school's responsibility, to ensure safe and appropriate placements.

How can more information be obtained?

On this website you will find information from experts in the field about selecting appropriate and safe volunteer placements. You can get a list of more websites about volunteerism. You can link to other sites that give information about government policy, and about insurance.

Read the Upper Grand District School Board Information Manual (PDF) carefully, noting your questions and concerns. Talk to teacher advisors, school administrators, other parents and spokespersons for the agencies on the Community Volunteer Services and Networks chart posted on this website.