I started Upstanders Academy in March of 2019. I rented a room in the church up the street and I had 13 kids signed up. The goal was to chat about real life issues and then come up with actions – community connected passion projects – that the kids could do to help. We had two sessions in person and then we got sent home because of COVID. So we decided to move it online – which was brand new for all of us, none of us knew what we were doing! But these kids are so amazing – they are so smart, wise, curious, compassionate and engaged. We learned and grew together. And this is what has gotten me through these two plus years of disconnection, isolation and anxiety caused by COVID. I so look forward to seeing these awesome kids every week. We have done so many beautiful, unbelievable things together. Here are a few examples …

We connected with Carvey, an engineering student in the Philippines who has invented solar panels made from food scraps that can collect UV rays even when the sun is not shining – this could change everything. You can watch a clip from that interview here.

We connected with Gever, who runs the Tinkering School and Brightworks in San Francisco, and is doing amazing work disrupting education. You can watch a clip form that interview here.

We did an online presentation on Environmental Activism to an audience of academics, community leaders and scientists as part of the Center for Research on Innovations and Social Transformations (CRITS) second annual symposium, entitled “Building A New World in the Shell of the Old to Face Climate Crisis: Between Transition, Resilience and Resistance”. CRITS is based in the School of Social Innovation at St. Paul University. The kids desperately wanted to do this again, so we are signed up to be part of the symposium this fall.

We participated in an online reading of the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) with the Social Justice and Peace Studies (SJPS) Department at King’s University College – we had four awesome kids read, and one of them volunteered to go first!

And, in April 2021, we connected with two Syrian boys living in a refugee camp in Lebanon, sending notes back and forth with them – and the amazing news is that this family arrived here to safety on May 24 and we got to meet them last week. You can watch a video explaining this here.

I am going to take a break for July, but will be running a session in August and would love for your awesome kids to join us. Get more details on our Facebook event page. Buy your family ticket here.