Students build connections at annual poverty conference

Seven years ago, a group of Trinity College School students worked with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit to explore ways to engage young people on the issues of poverty and homelessness in our local community. The result was the Students Together Opposing Poverty (STOP) program, which includes student representatives from many local high schools gathering each year to discuss, learn about and come up with action plans around these crucial issues.

This year’s fall STOP conference was hosted by Port Hope High School, with several local schools in attendance. Among the highlights was a speaker from Port Hope-based Greenwood Coalition (a long-time community partner of TCS), who talked to the students about the intersections of addiction and poverty and how we need to destigmatize both.

The students took part in several activities, including one where they took yarn and connected different statements that they identified with – for example, “I am a student” to “I feel like I belong” to “I’ve been bullied.” This definitely fostered a sense of safety and connection amongst the group and showed that, regardless of where we are from, we are all human and have shared experiences. It also resulted in a beautiful piece of art at the end.

The keynote speakers were Steve Buist, a journalist from Hamilton who made the connections between poverty, geography and illness within the Hamilton area, as well as Rose Wilton from The Rose Project, a local organization that puts together kits for homeless that include items such as shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, etc. 

It was a great day of learning for our students, as well as a wonderful opportunity to connect with our peers.

- By Zoe Walwyn, residential assistant and chaperone