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Just-Us Youth Day 2024: In Giving We Receive 

The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario recently hosted its annual Just-Us Youth Day on April 3rd, 2024, at the North Grenville Municipal Centre in Kemptville. Over 250 Grade 10 students from across the Board’s ten secondary schools gathered to explore social justice initiatives and find inspiration to create positive change in their communities. 

The day kicked off with a heartfelt liturgy led by St. Michael CHS, followed by an inspiring keynote address from guest speaker, Ryan Hreljac, Founder and Executive Director of the Ryan’s Well Foundation. Ryan shared his amazing story of how the Ryan’s Well Foundation came to existence from his will to help people in impoverished countries gain access to clean water at the age of six. He encouraged students to make a difference, no matter their age, a message which aligned with this year’s theme, “In Giving We Receive.” Selina Mackie, CDSBEO Mental Health Strategist, then spoke to students about the value of volunteering and “The Gift of Time.” 

After a delicious lunch which included cookies provided by the Hospitality Programs of St. Matthew CSS and St. Luke CHS, students were energized for the interactive workshops led by CDSBEO secondary students. 

Notre Dame CSS provided a workshop on “Operation Come Home,” highlighting the importance of addressing homelessness and promoting social justice. St. Mary CHS presenters shared insights into “Serving Those in Need,” empowering students with an outreach project to help those in difficult situations. Holy Trinity CSS encouraged “Empowering Diverse Voices,” promoting inclusivity in school communities, and St. Joseph CSS led “Welcoming All,” featuring powerful stories from peers worldwide, sparking discussions on creating inclusive environments. 

As the day ended, gratitude was extended to keynote speaker Ryan Hreljac, Selina Mackie, and the dedicated Hospitality Programs of St. Matthew CSS and St. Luke CHS. The event was a success thanks to the support from CDSBEO secondary schools, the Religion, Family Life, Equity and Inclusion Department, School Chaplaincy Leads, Trustees, and Senior Team ensured the success of this transformative event. 

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