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Jade Pichette


Algonquin students from a variety of programs have volunteered with a local education organization in Ottawa.

The Ottawa Network for Education has leveraged the skills of 25 students this year to enrich the lives of kids in schools and communities. Students can earn co-curricular credit while also connecting with a young person and providing a positive influence in their lives.

“They’re working with children from very disadvantaged situations,” said Lee-Ann Scott, director of volunteer programs at ONFE. “It’s all about the relationship between the volunteer and the student.”

There are 85 different avenues volunteers can follow to connect with kids. Professional development workshops and talks are also offered through ONFE.

One of ONFE’s major programs is Ottawa Reads. Ottawa Reads has connected many different corporate and public entities, including the Ottawa Police Service, to schools and offer one on one reading sessions that are just for fun and pleasure.

“They say it takes a thousand books to learn a language,” said OPS spokeswoman Carol MacPherson.

MacPherson co-ordinates the OPS’s involvement with Ottawa Reads and indicated that instructors from Algonquin’s police foundation’s professional development centre have participated.

Schools in the community around Algonquin like Severen Avenue Public School and Grant Alternative Public School take part in the program. Volunteers like Justin So pair up with children and offer them an opportunity to show reading for fun and pleasure.

“I am currently working with two students at Briargreen Public School and I enjoy helping them develop their reading skills,” said So, a first year student in the programming program.  “I try to choose books which they enjoy and do my best to instill a passion for reading in general.”

Students can begin the process of volunteering by registering on www.onfe-rope.ca and following simple steps to chose what field they want to contribute to. Volunteering is easy and according to Scott, male role models are hard to find and are highly valued. Although in a bucking of the trend, the majority of volunteers from Algonquin this year are male.

“The students feel like: ‘Hey, this volunteer is here just for me,” said Scott. “They learn a ton about themselves and human nature.”