Featured Newsletter #2 - August

Access initiatives: What are they and why do they matter?

By: Cankat Zirhlioglu

CSE Staff participating in youth mentoring.

What is Access? Everyone has heard this word, but most people do not know that there is not just one specific definition.

We have many initiatives that aim to raise awareness for supporting youth in accessing Post-Secondary Education (PSE). Our goal is to show students that might not consider PSE as an option that there is not one specific path, to reach their goal.

Access initiatives benefit both the youth that comes out to our events and the volunteers that help run them. Youth are exposed to university resources and gain awareness of their educational development. Volunteers gain valuable skills by planning and executing activities for our events, but more importantly, volunteers get to empower the youth of their potential.

The Centre for Student Engagement (CSE) has three signature event categories that concentrate on access initiatives. First, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) days help youth develop study interests through activities that show the practical applications of STEAM in everyday life. Second, the Girls and Women in Sports Day bring young girls from the Peel Region together for an afternoon of activities to engage, inspire, empower and raise awareness towards a healthy active life. Third, Indigenous Initiatives seek to help promote the equity and inclusion of Indigenous peoples, contributing to a more welcoming and inclusive community on campus. Overall, our initiatives have access at their core to help people explore their potentials and gain hands-on skills they can apply throughout their lives.

My own experience with the CSE spans multiple years, which allowed me to see the impact our events have on both the community and the UTM volunteers. Over the years, I observed that the more people got involved with their community, the more skills they developed, which they would have missed on otherwise. For example, I have only discovered my passion for Project Management through my involvement in an array in initiatives.

I think that the work that student volunteers do is critical to the success of our initiatives and their personal growth. Access initiatives are great opportunities to grow skills such as public speaking, facilitating, and presenting in a safe and constructive environment. Many people are not in it for the growth aspects, but rather to give back or to spend their free time in a meaningful and fun way. 

If you would like to learn more about Access initiatives or to help change someone's life check out our website.