Students score funds for hospice

Youth Philanthropy Initiative helps students at Oak Bay High explore worthy causes in the community

Tom Arnold (left) of Victoria Hospice with Xin Yin Wang

Tom Arnold (left) of Victoria Hospice with Xin Yin Wang

Victoria Hospice can offer 62 more bereavement sessions after Oak Bay High students asked their peers to imagine they were facing a terminal diagnosis.

The statistic on what $5,000 could provide was just one tangent of information and emotion offered by Marissa Louie, Sydney Chan and Xin Yin Wang last week during the finale for Youth Philanthropy Initiative.

“Now I want you to imagine what it would be like if just received news that someone you loved … just passed away,” Louie beseeched her peers. “Most often this thought of losing someone is a million times worse than the thought of you passing away because you would do anything just to be in their place, and you would do anything just to take their pain away.”

The philanthropy initiative, funded by the Toskan Casale Foundation, aims to raise awareness of charitable organizations and social issues. In Canada it’s geared toward students in Grade 9 and 10. Under the YPI program, teams of students research social problems in the community and create persuasive presentations about a charity they believe is well positioned to tackle the issues they care about.

At Oak Bay, students connected with about 30 different charities before they were whittled down to the final three competitors for the award, said teacher Roxanne Taggart, who encourages the youth to become “advocates for change.”

The other two groups championed noteworthy causes during the finale – The Mustard Seed Food Bank and The Help Fill a Dream Foundation.

When tasked with investigating a charity, Wang suggested they explore Victoria Hospice, which she discovered as a volunteer at Royal Jubilee Hospital (hospice volunteers must be over 19). It was a charity, the trio discovered, that hadn’t been tackled in the five previous years of YPI presentations at Oak Bay High.

“It was definitely something we wanted to share,” Louie said. “Even if we didn’t win, we wanted to at least have people know about it.”

Their youthful enthusiasm was well received as they investigated the cause for their award-winning presentation.

“Hospice is sometimes a difficult issue because it does deal with death,” said Tom Arnold, of Victoria Hospice, whom the trio interviewed for the piece. “That they understood our work is about life and quality of life was really exciting.”

Hospice offers support for home and hospice end-of-life care. They help with the emotional pain of those suffering loss through an array of different bereavement programs designed for all aspects of society.

Victoria Hospice celebrates 35 years this year.