A SOYL Summer
As the 2020 SOYL Program kicks off this week with a whole new crop of youth, we thought it would be a good time to share an insightful piece written from the youth participants’ perspective and experiences in the 2019 Fresh Roots SOYL program. Introducing the first installment of this three-part series:
Written by Stephanie, Maria, Railene, and Sarina, 2019 SOYL Participants
Introduction by Nicole, former SOYL Youth, and Current SOYL Lead
For the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure and honour of facilitating the SOYL Program with Fresh Roots. I’ve become a lot better at this work overtime and am learning new skills every year. However, one of the toughest parts of my job is still trying to explain to others what the program is. People ask me all the time what I do for work and the answer is usually “I run youth programs on urban farms”, but that barely scratches the surface of what SOYL is about. When we go to the market to sell the produce we helped grow, we teach the youth to share their experience in SOYL with the customers. They talk about what SOYL stands for (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) and how they are learning about the food system.
The story and importance of SOYL are much better shared by the youth, they can do a much better job sharing the story than the SOYL leaders! So, at the end of last summer when some of the SOYL Youth said they wanted to write a story about their experience in SOYL, I was so excited! It meant a few different things. First, that the youth enjoyed spending time together and wanted to find a new way to do that now that SOYL was over, and second, that they wanted other youth to have the same experience as them. It’s really heartwarming to know that the work we do as facilitators is appreciated and valued. In fact, this story mentions a few times how cool the facilitators are which is always nice. Something I would like to remind the youth and the public of is the impact of the program is felt by facilitators as well. I try to remind the youth as much as possible that just as they are learning from me, I am learning from them; just as they look to me for strength, I look to them. This is all to say the SOYL Program is much more than a youth program, it’s a community that means a lot to the people in it. It’s a space where we all grow and learn together. It’s a space where we feel safe and appreciated.
Reading this piece has helped me understand how I can talk about SOYL.
Nicole, former SOYL Youth, and Current SOYL Lead
About the Authors
- Hello, my name is Sarina and I am going into grade 11. I am in a special class called senior links program at Vancouver Technical Secondary school. My favourite SOYL moment was designing the salsa label because I really like to draw pictures. They are beautiful and pretty. My favourite field trip in SOYL was it when we went to Van Dusen Garden. We all sat in the green lawn after the amazing tour and we did a scavenger hunt. It was really funny when we got lost finding the maze, one of my group thought that the big board was a map of the park. Then we lost each other in the maze. It was also the day of the Long Table Dinner. The table looks so fancy and we set up the table then we serve the food to the people. I have two jokes I like the most from SOYL. The first one was worm university and the other one was number 15. What an unforgettable summer!
- Hello, my name is Stephanie and I am going into grade 9. I go to a mini school at Britannia Secondary school. I have two field trips I’ve enjoyed most and the first is when we went to Van Dusen Garden. We all sat at the great big lawn resting on the bright green patch. After the beautiful tour, we had a scavenger hunt. Running through the maze and swiftly walking past the shady fern garden. All of us laughed at how we lost each other during the hunt. On the same day, we had the Long Table Dinner, making dinner day extra eventful! At the Long Table, we set up the fancy tables and served the wonderful people. I’m so grateful for all the things I’ve learned from SOYL. Another fantastic moment that occurred at SOYL had been during the last day. The morning of the last day was filled with sadness and joy. While we all waited for the bus all of us bonded laughing at different subjects. Our first stop had been the landfill. We learned about where all are waste headed and it opened our minds more. Continuing the journey that day we headed to a farm. I loved how we got to eat lunch at a farm and meet the animals. We got to feed pigs and pick blackberries! Our last stop was at the park where the Fresh Roots office is. We played a typical mafia game, made pizzas, signed our names on our t-shirts, got certificates, obtained our stipend, ate cake, and pied the facilitator’s faces. It was an end to an unforgettable summer.
- Hello, my name is Railene and I am a graduated high school student from Killarney Secondary School. My favorite moment at SOYL would be playing basketball with our SOYL facilitators because I wanted to see if they could beat me in 1 on 1. I taught them the most important skills; how to shoot the basketball and learn some basketball moves. Another great moment was the last day of SOYL because while we’re at the Fresh Roots office we did so many activities. Some of us were playing mafia while other people were playing basketball. Then one of our facilitators called us and showed us the slideshow that she made and it gave us enjoyment and laughter. In the end, we gathered together in a circle and two of the SOYL crew members were singing a song called somewhere over the rainbow and while one of the crew mentors was playing the ukulele. It was a beautiful summer.
- Hello! My name is Maria and I’m going into grade 10. I attend Burnaby North Secondary School. Two of my countless favorite memories in SOYL were facilitating warm-ups with my fellow SOYL friends. Every day a new group of two SOYL members got the awesome opportunity to lead a warm-up for the team. I loved this experience as it gave me an opportunity to practice my public speaking, practice working with others and work on facilitation skills. My second favorite memory was all the times we went to the market. Selling at the market was such an amazing experience. I had been to a farmers market when I was younger and it was so cool to see the way everything was set up, how it all worked, and get to practice my customer service skills and learn about food.
Proceeds from the Fresh Roots Fourth Annual Schoolyard Dinner *At Home Edition* On Sale Now will go toward supporting Fresh Roots programs, like SOYL, that engage and empower youth more important now than ever!