Jane Dean looking at the camera on a sunny day and smiling

Taking classroom learning to community

May 17, 2023

Jane Dean shares her story

Jane Dean has been passionate about working with children and youth for as long as she can remember. When she started the Child and Youth Care program at VIU, her goal was to create a positive impact in the lives of others.

She is now seeing her goal come to fruition. She’s been helping to organize a large outdoor event at Georgia Avenue Community School  school in Nanaimo’s Harewood community.

The Georgia Avenue Community Connections event takes place this Thursday, May 18. It will include a barbecue and games and is staffed by volunteers from the school community as well as VIU students.

Jane’s goal is to create an accessible space for community members to connect with the school, resources and community services.

The event is possible thanks to funding from the Pacific Blue Cross Health Foundation. The funding is to help support health and wellness in the Harewood community.

Child and Youth Care Professor Teri Derksen suggested using the funding to support the students and families at Georgia Avenue, where Jane was finishing a practicum placement. Staff at Georgia Avenue Community School were supportive of the idea.

Growing up in Nanaimo and attending high school at John Barsby Secondary in Harewood, Jane feels a significant connection to the area. 

“Taking on a project like this was something that I became passionate about, as I value the importance of connection and relational experiences,” she adds.“This event has allowed me to give back to the Harewood community in a significant way.”

Jane has taken on a wide variety of roles to help make the event happen. These roles include creating the budget, planning the food, organizing volunteers, choosing activities and attending meetings to promote the event and request support.

“I have also connected with community organizations that work to support the health and wellness of children, youth and families in Nanaimo, many of which will be attending the event,” she says.

And while it’s the first event of this size Jane has ever planned, she feels well-supported by her practicum mentor, school staff and professors. She’s also been pleasantly surprised by how willing and excited community partners are to support community members.

“There was a significant amount of collaboration required to ensure that everything was prepared, and I am grateful to everyone who worked with me,” she adds.

Jane credits her program with helping her feel prepared and capable of taking on a project like this. 

“The program emphasizes the importance of relational, strength-based and collaborative practices when working with children, youth and families. I used these values throughout the entire process of planning and organizing this event,” she says. “It has been so beneficial to my learning and to my professional growth. I am grateful to have a strong support system as I work to achieve my goals. I am also grateful to the students, staff and families at Georgia Avenue for welcoming me and allowing me the opportunity to learn and grow in their school environment.”

Jane will return to VIU this fall for her fourth year of the CYC program. She encourages new and future CYC students to take on challenges and make the most of their time in the program.

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