FWIO Provincial Scholarship Winner, 2017
Essay Question: “Canada’s Sesquicentennial and the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario’s 120th Birthday are both in 2017. What good qualities brought our great country and FWIO this far and how can these same qualities continue to lead us into the future?"
Canada has been ranked the sixth freest democracy in the world. 1 Not all countries are equally democratic or remain at the same democratic ranking for a long period of time. Canada has grown in it's democracy over the years which is evident through looking at the history of the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario.
As a democratic society, Canada values freedom of speech. This value sets us apart from many other nations where individuals, namely women do not have this right. Since the beginning of the FWIO women have grown in their ability and power to influence our country and government through their freedom of speech. The FWIO has enabled women to have a stronger voice by uniting them with other women with similar beliefs and speaking as a united group. At the beginning of the FWIO, the need for homemaking education to be added to public school curriculum was voiced by Adelaide Hunter. She, being united with other like minded women fought for this necessity and saw the implementation of the curriculum because of their efforts. Looking to the future, Canada must continue to value freedom of speech to continue to increase as a democratic nation.
The FWIO has made it a priority to reach out to minorities that may otherwise remain overlooked. At the beginning of the FWIO this overlooked group was rural homemakers but today it takes its form in isolated First Nations communities. The FWIO seeks to give women a voice who otherwise would have remained unheard. This goal is essential to fostering a Canada where all people are valued regardless of gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background. Every individual deserves to have freedom of speech and the opportunity to be heard. The FWIO fosters a sense of community as women from all over Ontario work together to improve the quality of life for women in far away communities. These women dedicate their time to helping other women thrive by providing them with the knowledge and skills they need to create a safe and healthy family and community. To continue to uphold a high standard of democracy, Canada must take action to value social equality amongst all people.
The FWIO realizes that by giving women the skills they need to create a healthy and thriving family they are ultimately investing in the lives of the women's children also. Canada is filled with many broken families that are struggling. To ensure a stronger and democratic Canada, Canada and the FWIO must continue to reach out in compassion to women that are struggling to raise and support their families. The FWIO has done great work to help women grow in their education, homemaking and child care skills. By investing in women and their families the FWIO enables women to pass these skills down to their children. Children are the future of our country. Canada and the FWIO need to continue to work to create strong families in order to create a stronger Canada.
Helen M. McKercher Scholarship Winner, 2017
Essay Question: How would you put life skills back into high schools?
Life skills have become set on the back burner today of fast-paced living and technology making our days more "connected". Yet, the increase in obesity and health-related diseases continues to climb. It seems that our adoption of computers and efficiency, in turn, has placed less value on life skills over the course of my lifetime (which is less than 40 years!).
I was the last class of home economics in the elementary school system. In Ontario high schools, the courses still exist but are not mandatory. To put life skills back into high schools would mean an increase in the quality of life of a new generation. Knowing how to cook, sew on a button, have face-to-face conversations with manners, and understanding the importance of family and relationships seems "common sense" but these are some of the things that are truly missing in the new generation of students.
Iwould love to make an all-encompassing Life Skills course that is mandatory for high school graduation. It would include cooking, sewing, budgeting, parenting, and healthy commun'1cat'1on topics. It would give the foundation for a daily life that included healthy food and personal finances as well as how to have great social supports. I believe that with more support of the public to demand their political representatives to do this, it could happen.
A multi-faceted approach, just like the profession of home economics, would probably be an advantage to solving the problem. Perhaps having a Home Ee Club started in each school to really enhance the lives of high school students. They cannot vote based on their age, but their voices can be strong when they find an interest in something that they find valuable and fun.
Teachers could have a mandatory professional development course in how to integrate life skills into the current curriculum. For example, tracking your healthy snacks or heart rate using math skills in a graph.
Yet, the first teachers in a child's life are their parents at home. Many of the parents were not taught life skills, or forget because their careers allow for them to source out others to do these tasks for them. A workshop for parents and students that help to build these skills again would be a great community resource.
Sometimes adding fun events indirectly assist students to build skills. For example, having a Cook Off or Black Box culinary event (or Sustainable Fashion, or Crafting), where leading up to the event the students are giving supportive "lessons" to help them better compete on that day. It allows the life skills to be built with an end goal or prize to strive for. Having every participant win prizes and be recognized for participating publicly would really celebrate them and their abilities (skills). It would also help to bring more recognition to others to encourage them to also participate and build these life skills.
Placing importance on life skills again would be a huge contribution to the upcoming generations of adults. Providing opportunities for high school students to learn these skills is the most important factor in being able to adopt them into their daily lives. It is not the question of just how, but when. Our efforts should start today in order to affect many tomorrows.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." Benjamin Franklin