#OCChangemakers 2022-2023 End-Of-Year Updates: Katie, Noelle & Ariba

Updates from Katie, Noelle & Ariba at the end of their one year of implementing their projects as an #OCChangemaker.

Ignite Activation Space
Katie Goulet, Chatham Kent

Project Highlights & Impacts

The Ignite project was an experiment that brought together diverse youth groups, leading to unexpected connections and growth.

The project began with an open-call invitation offering a complimentary meal to all participants and a space to freely share ideas on what changes youth would like to see in their community. During the event, participants were given the opportunity to engage with each other and openly share their ideas. Under the Ignite Conference banner, the event had a large turnout of enthusiastic participants eager to create meaningful connections with peers who shared similar aspirations.   

As the project developed, core values, mutual expectations, and goals were collectively agreed upon. Work teams and strategic action plans were also created to set the groundwork, all geared toward fostering community engagement and driving tangible transformations. 

The group experienced some challenges due to differences among members expectations and commitment levels. Some participants joined for social reasons, others out of a desire for change, and some to fulfill volunteer hour requirements. Eventually, over time, a dedicated team of four emerged. They were enthusiastic about ideation but faced difficulties putting their ideas into action.  The Ignite project has gained valuable insights from this experience and will help shape forthcoming stages. 

The project highlights the importance of having a dedicated team committed to realizing transformative ideas. As the project continues beyond the Ontario Changemakers program, its primary goal of facilitating connections, nurturing leadership, and fostering meaningful change is poised to usher in a new era of youth-led initiatives.  

About Katie
Katie Goulet is a youth engagement lead from Chatham, Ontario. She’s most drawn to working with young adults and is passionate about ‘for youth, by youth’ initiatives. She knows that young people are more than capable of leading when presented with an opportunity, yet not many meaningful opportunities exist in the area. Kaitlin believes a good leader focuses on building relationships, actively listens, and can take a backseat approach when appropriate.  She leads Ignite, a genuine youth-led initiative in Chatham-Kent.


Mending Communities
Noelle Ward, Peterborough

Project Highlights & Impacts

Noelle’s experience working on Mending Communities was incredibly rewarding. While things didn’t go as originally planned, she became more connected to the community and discovered ways to address people’s needs through community connections. She made new friends and helped them learn how to network with each other and organizations to further their goals. Most importantly, she felt like she made a positive impact in her home and in the lives of the people in it. 

When Noelle initially submitted her proposal, she had hoped to work directly with a local nonprofit as an employee while running her program under their guidance. However, it did not work out as planned. She remained a volunteer and received support from the staff at the nonprofit, and they agreed to support her financially with the use of their venue until the end of August, which allowed Noelle to continue running the program for a longer duration. 

In place of working more directly with the nonprofit, Noelle started a collaboration with a local arts-based collective called Flamingo House, which was also doing similar outreach work with unhoused folks in the area. Through Flamingo House, she was able to connect with multiple skilled menders and sewers, as well as several different sources of new clothing. Together, Mending Communities and Flamingo House created a new program called Community Closet, allowing people to pick up clothing mended by Mending Communities for free once a week. The remaining grant funds received from the Ontario Changemakers project will also be distributed as honorariums to those who assisted with Mending Communities and the Community Closet. 

Mending Communities has already made a noticeable impact in the community because of the clothing made available with the Community Closet. Deeply inspired by witnessing her project’s tangible impact on the lives of those in need, I am excited to see where my project goes and am confident it will continue growing. 

Her future plans for Mending Communities include exploring other funding sources to sustain and expand both programs over the long term. She plans to connect with the local university and apply for additional grants to secure long-term funding. She also intends to take part in the 2SLGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs program recently announced by the Liberal government. With the level of support and mentorship provided by the Ontario Changemakers program, making Mending Communities a permanent and lasting initiative is not far of reach. With the assistance of Flamingo House, she is confident that she can achieve this goal. 

About Noelle

Noelle Ward is a 28-year-old transgender activist and social service work student. She graduated from Trent University in 2018 with a degree in Psychology and has continued her education in support services through Fleming College. Noelle works with multiple Peterborough-based organizations to help build a community support network among queer and other marginalized people in the city. Outside of activism, Noelle is a tabletop gaming enthusiast and LARPer, the latter of which helped inspire Mending Communities as she learned how many skilled crafters live in her local community. 


The King’s Roots
Ariba Tasnim,  Kingston

Project Highlights & Impacts

A group of young people at a park.

A Day of Eco-Awareness with the King’s Roots Project

When people talk about education, it’s often classrooms, textbooks, and lectures that come to mind. However, sometimes the best lessons come when we step outside the four walls of the classroom. This ideology forms the cornerstone of the King’s Roots Project, initiated by Ariba, which seeks to educate the community—especially our youth—about environmental justice through hands-on experiences. 

Two boys at Marshlands Conservation Area.

Brochure cover.

A Hike Through Marshlands Conservation Area 

As a student teacher, I was thrilled to integrate this project into our curriculum. I took my grade 8 class on a field trip to hike the Marshlands Conservation Area. This wasn’t your average hike; the students were armed with pamphlets that featured pictures of various plants, along with information about their properties, such as toxicity or edibility. In pairs, they roamed the marshlands, ticking off each plant they found on their scavenger hunt. The competitive spirit was high, with the pair finishing first winning a prize. 

This activity was not just a game, but an educational adventure. It reconnected the students with nature, teaching them about the significance of plants in our ecosystem, their potential impact on human health, and the importance of biodiversity. 

A group of young people starting a hike to Lake Ontario Park.
A Brief Detour to Lake Ontario Park

After the Marshlands, we moved to Lake Ontario Park, conveniently located next door. Here, the students tested the lake’s pH level using pH strips. The aim was to understand what pH levels indicate about the health of a water body, its suitability for aquatic life, and its implications for human health. The students filled out a worksheet, analyzing their findings and speculating about the consequences of varying pH levels in water systems. 

The Creative Side of Environmental Justice 

To wrap up the day, the students engaged in a creative activity: designing their own T-shirts and hats to promote the King’s Roots Project. The shirts weren’t merely fashion items, but wearable messages advocating for environmental justice. Each student thoughtfully chose designs and slogans that reflected their own perspective on environmental care.

A Holistic Approach to Environmental Education 

The Changemaker’s primary goal with the King’s Roots Project is to show that environmental justice is not just about saving the planet; it’s about understanding how our actions impact our health and well-being. When we talk about reducing our carbon footprint, it’s not just for the Earth; it’s for us too. A healthy planet means healthier humans, after all. 

The day was not only filled with learning but also with joy, enthusiasm, and a newfound respect for the world we inhabit. The King’s Roots Project hopes to activate public spaces and inspire the community to consider their role in environmental health seriously. By providing our youth with the tools to understand the intricacies of their environment, we are not just planting seeds in the ground but also in their minds. These are the seeds that will grow into a forest of educated and responsible citizens, caring for their planet and, by extension, themselves. 

And so, with the incredible success of our day out, the project reaffirms my belief that sometimes the most impactful classroom is the great outdoors. It’s a lesson plan that extends beyond textbooks, touching lives in the most extraordinary ways. 

About Ariba

Ariba Tasnim is a teacher candidate in the Queens University Consecutive B.Ed. program. Born and raised in Toronto, Ariba always had a disconcerting feeling of losing touch with the natural world and did not fully realize how important it was to become involved in protecting our planet. During her final year of undergrad at York University, Glendon, Ariba was the Co-President of Glendon’s Regenesis Chapter, which involved her in many eco-initiatives. Her time as Co-President helped her to realize the need of creating eco-awareness for city folk. In her pastime, Ariba enjoys hobbies that include reading, hiking, playing guitar, and singing!

#publicspace #civicengagement #socialinclusion