Alternative Reading Week

Alternative Reading Week. Two students working on a project.

What is Alternative Reading Week?

Alternative Reading Week (ARW) is a 3-day initiative where students are given a chance to learn more about, and to understand the local issues within the Region of Peel during the Winter Reading Week. Within small teams guided by project leaders, student volunteers work on projects that revolve around the needs of different organizations within the community. ARW is a great way for students to start their journey to becoming involved in volunteering and be a leader within the community.

ARW is an opportunity for student volunteers and community organizations to mutually benefit from working together on community projects. Meet like-minded individuals and network with people within the industry while gaining hands-on experience in a field you are passionate about. Students will participate in a project from start to finish and develop skills along the way, such as:

  • Community and civic engagement
  • Decision-making and action
  • Fostering inclusivity and equity
  • Inquiry
  • Knowledge application to daily life
  • Leadership
  • Project management
  • Teamwork


  •  Volunteer 7.5 hours per day from February 16th-18th to help with executing a project that meets the challenge of a community-identified issue, working with a team of other student volunteers and an ARW Community Leader.
  • Complete online training modules prior to the experience and an online reflection survey after the experience and add Alternative Reading week to your Co-Curricular Record

Past Projects

Check out the projects the students worked on in 2019-20

St. Rose of Lima (Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board)

The Organization: St. Rose of Lima is an elementary school in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.

The Project: Students in this project will prepare STEM Day ideas and activities for youth in grade 4, 5, and 6. This opportunity will take place both off-campus and in the school.


Halton-Peel Community Aphasia Programs (H-PCAP)

The Organization: Halton-Peel Community Aphasia Programs  (H-PCAP), is a not-for-profit organization that provides conversation group therapy for people with aphasia. Our groups follow a life participation approach – enhancing the communication skills and quality of life of people with aphasia. Group therapy sessions are facilitated by Speech-Language Pathologists and Communicative Disorders Assistants, with the support of a registered Social Worker, trained volunteers, and students. ​​

The Projects:

  1. Individuals with aphasia aren’t always ready to discuss community groups when getting discharged from the hospital. However, later in their recovery they find themselves feeling isolated and lacking social interaction. Our organization provides conversation groups for individuals living with aphasia and other communication disorders.  We are looking for students to help create materials that can get into the hands of general practitioners so that they can help share support options with their patients living with aphasia. Students will mainly work on campus for this opportunity and may visit our organization to meet with us during Alternative Reading Week (any transportation will be arranged by the Centre for Student Engagement). 
  2. Replicated studies around the world have reported that the number of people who know about aphasia hovers around 5%. We want to change this. As part of our mandate we are always looking to raise Aphasia awareness in the general public. We are looking for help developing creative ways (such as a social media campaign) to get the word out about Aphasia. Do you have experience or interest in social media and graphic design? That could be as asset to this project. Students will mainly work on campus for this opportunity and may visit our organization during Alternative Reading Week (any transportation will be arranged by the Centre for Student Engagement).


Caledon Dufferin Victim Services

The Organization: Caledon-Dufferin Victim Services provides 24/7 emotional support, information and referrals to persons experiencing the effects of crime, trauma, tragedy or personal crisis.

The Project: We are looking for a team to create a short 30 second video showing how to update privacy on: iPhone, Android, and/or any other current social media platform. This project will take place on the UTM campus.


The Dam Youth Drop In – Meadowvale

The Organization: The DAM is a youth drop-in centre location in the Meadowvale area of Mississauga.

The Project: Students participating in this project will be at the DAM for the duration of Alternative Reading Week to help in preparation for The Coldest Night of the Year event that takes place on Saturday February 22nd (you can register to also volunteer for that event at:

Students on this project will also be involved in programming for youth. This project will take place on-site at the Community Partner. The CSE will cover transportation to and from campus.


Caledon Meals on Wheels

The Organization: Established in 1984, our volunteer-driven, not-for-profit agency provides meals, services and social programs to residents living in the Town of Caledon and Orangeville area. Our services and programs include: hot and frozen meal delivery, group dining, lunch and card parties, exercise programs, volunteer visiting and telechats, and security checks.
With the support of our nutritional program and social services, clients can live independently in their homes and remain in their communities.

The Project: This project will focus on developing a marketing strategy including promotion of services, social media posts, and branding guidelines. This project will take place both on site and on campus – the Centre for Student Engagement will cover travel to and from campus and the community organization.


Safe City Mississauga

The Organization: Safe City Mississauga is a registered charitable organization founded in 1992 to help reduce criminal opportunity and criminal victimization in Mississauga. We provide resources, staff, professional community leadership and guidance for crime prevention programs and activities; encourage crime prevention education within the public, private and voluntary sectors; and research, develop and implement new community crime prevention programs and activities.

The Project: Participation in the Aspire tutoring program as a 'Site Coordinator for the day'. The Aspire program is a no-cost tutoring program offered to children JK-Gr 6 in underserviced communities in Mississauga. The Site Coordinator leads tutoring sessions by overseeing tutors and ensuring smooth delivery. The project will be blocked out as follows:    Tues: UTM ARW welcome in the morning, training in the afternoon on-site at 300 City Centre Drive OR at UTM campus.  Wed: 11-3 pm lesson planning on-site at 300 City Centre Drive, 3:30-6:30 pm 'site coordinator' work on-site at one of our tutoring locations (see notes).  Thurs: End of Day Report submission (Aspire document) and Poster board creation in the morning, and presentation fair in the afternoon.    Special Notes:  *We would only want either 2 or 4 students to participate in this project in total. No odd numbers please!  *Students would attend the 'site coordinator' portion of the day in pairs (one site per pair).  *Locations of 'site coordinator' work to be determined by Teresa Burgess-Ogilvie closer to date and depending on need (all within Mississauga limits - check website for list of locations)  


The EveryWoman Project:

The Organization: Providing period products to those who bleed and are in need in our communities

The Project: We are looking to create a sleek donation package to potential corporate and major individual donors! Students will be working on-campus to complete this project.


Moyo Health & Community Services

The Organization: Moyo (previously known as Peel HIV/AIDS Network) has provided a growing array of health promotion, education, social and support services for people living with, affected by, and at systemic risk of HIV. Through collaborative efforts and effective service delivery, Moyo has become the leading HIV/AIDS service provider for Peel’s communities of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.

The Project:  Students will work with Moyo team members to explore fundraising activities. The objective of the project will be to identify innovative strategies to work with community partners, vendors (corporations and local artists), funders and private funders to capture funds for the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). Moyo HCS will work with the teams to build their capacity in planning, implementing and evaluating stakeholder engagement strategies to leverage resources for our IDAHOT event. This project will take place both on campus and on site at the community organization. The CSE will cover travel between campus and the community organization.


Community Living Mississauga

The Organization: Providing support to individuals who have an intellectual disability to ensure their quality of life in the community is meaningfully improved.

The Project: This project will connect a group of volunteers to look over the Community on Campus annual survey that is distributed to family, participants, volunteers, and university partners for feedback on how programming can be improved. This project will take place on-campus.


Let’s Get Together

The Organization: A non-profit organization that creates opportunities for parents, youth and communities to access information and resources that provide educational assistance and support student well-being. The mission is to empower parents to become more engaged in their children’s education and inspire youth in their learning while making it more equitable and accessible.

The Project: With the support of the Social Innovation project team and Let's Get Together, this group of creative UTM students will create and execute a social media campaign to launch #PassthePen which was created by UTM students from ARW 2019.  Here's the link to the video (it will have to be cut down).  The goal is to get 200 post-secondary students to record their own 60 seconds or less #PassthePen message within that one week and share via Instagram, in the hopes that it will go viral and inspire more messages across Canada.  #PassthePen messages are the vital 'learned life lessons' shared by post-secondary students with the younger generation and their parents.  Target audience is families with children ages 10 -16 years. This experience will take place on campus. 


Big Brothers Big Sisters Peel

The Organization: Many children and youth in Canada struggle with societal barriers and face adversities in their lives like detrimental living conditions, family violence, risk factors for mental health, school issues and identity challenges. These circumstances have nothing to do with the value of who they are or who they can become, but because of these situations, children and youth risk not having the opportunity to live up to their full potential. Even worse is the possibility of continuing cycles of poverty and crime or developing mental health issues. This comes at a cost to the young person, and to society.

With the guidance and support of a mentor, these risks can be reduced or even avoided, and youth are reminded they can be anything they dream of being.

The Project: Big Brothers Big Sisters Peel is looking for a small group of volunteers to begin looking into how our organization can preliminarily explore internship opportunities at UTM, particularly in the area of grant-writing to assist with organizational growth. Students will need to look at the current internship opportunities at Big Brothers and Big Sister of Peel as well a look into potential opportunities that would be available at the UTM campus. Students would be working on behalf of the organization at the UTM campus

This experience is approved on the Co-Curricular Record (CCR)! Links to the ccr website.

Building Partnerships

To develop new initiatives, we encourage partners in the community to connect with us to explore ways we can work together to provide these opportunities at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) and in the local community. We invite schools, parents and families, local community organizations, and UTM community mentors and student groups to explore how we can work together. If you are interested in partnering with the Centre for Student Engagement on Social Innovation Projects, please fill out this form

Registration Information 

Registration for ARW will open in January 2021. 


For all questions and feedback regarding Alternative Reading Week, please contact:

Michelle Atkinson
Community Engagement Coordinator

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