Alternative Reading Week

Alternative Reading Week. Two students working on a project.

What is Alternative Reading Week?

Alternative Reading Week (ARW) is a three-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 Feb. 22-24th, 2022 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

Reading Week 2021-22 Projects


Will be updated in December 2021, please see last year's projects below for some examples of our projects: 


Halton-Peel Community Aphasia Programs

Project: Social Media and Closed Captioning

We are looking for students to collaborate on some social media campaigns for us during ARW. We’d also love some assistance on how we can create some closed captioning on some of our videos.


Caledon/Dufferin Victim Services

Project:  Understanding Racialized and Marginalized Victims of Crime

Our organization works with victims of crime in the Caledon/Dufferin region and we would like to better understand the experience of victimization for racialized, marginalized, and Indigenous victims who we work with.

We’d like to better understand:

• What additional factors need to be considered, explored or understood when dealing with victims from racialized, marginalized, and Indigenous communities? 

• Effects of race and culture on the victim experience with support services & the justice system 

• Effects of racial profiling and police experiences

• What are specific resources for victims from racialized, marginalized, and Indigenous communities 

Project: Technology and Human Trafficking

Our organization works with victims of crime in the Caledon/Dufferin region and we would like to better understand the link between technology and human trafficking. This project will focus on exploring ways in which technology is currently used to lure youth into human trafficking including:

  • Online predation 
  • Sexting/sharing of illicit photos 
  • Use of technology to harass & stalk 

How can technology be used to assist victims of human trafficking or connect them to support, safety or services? 


St. Rose of Lima

Project: Online STEAM Workshops

We are an elementary school with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board and we are looking to develop online STEAM workshops for Intermediate (GR8) and/or Junior (GR6) learner classrooms that are collaboratively planned and curriculum-based interactive activities.


The DAM Youth Drop-In Centre

Project: Online Campaign Support

Help us create templates or some kind of virtual countdown to our fundraising walk, The Coldest Night of The Year with specific action items. We are also running an anti-racist online campaign that we would love student to contribute to through ARW.

Eden Food for Change

Project: Marketing Coldest Night of The Year

Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) 2021 will fall on February 20th, 2021 to raise awareness and funds for the hungry and homeless in Mississauga. This project will have a marketing focus with a two-part result. The first part will focus on developing social media content & helping spread the word in the Mississauga community about this walk/fundraiser for 2021. The second part will be developing a long-term marketing plan and content that can be utilized in future Coldest Night events. 

Project: Donor Recognition

As an organization, we are fortunate to have an exceptional donor base that supports us in various ways throughout the year. We have corporate partners, religious groups, schools, and individual families that help us achieve our mission and vision. We receive monetary donations, as well as groups that collect food donations for our food bank. We would like to develop a stewardship matrix and do some research on how we can best appreciate and recognize all these donors in a consistent manner. These donors make it possible for us to do the work that we do, so making them feel valued is important to us.

Moyo Health and Community Services

Project: Black History Month

We are hoping to have the students join us in creating materials for upcoming Black History Month events. Activities include researching Community Partners for collaboration, research in key historical materials that show dept and diversity of Black Canadian history materials. Students will also develop social media marketing activities and digital content creation. We also envision students using experiences gained to host their own Black History events on campus (of which we would support.)

Let’s Get Together

Project: Student Group

We’d like to get Let's Get Together registered as a Student Group at UTM. We’re looking for students to set up the club structure as much as possible, develop outreach and marketing resources, create a fundraising and recruitment plan, explore potential projects the club can do and examine how the club can stay connected to the organization throughout the year. We are hoping that some students who register for this project are committed to being a part of this student group after ARW!

Project: Online Learning Guides

We are looking for students to create two guidebooks for students (Grade 4 - 7) and (Grade 8 - 12) that offers ideas and solutions to problems that youth face with online learning at home. These may be shared as an e-guide or if we can get funding, we may print it.

Project: Virtual Storytime

We’d like to develop a reading literacy and mentorship program where post-secondary and mature high school students read stories/bedtime stories to children and families virtually. Each session is 20 - 25 minutes in small groups. The program can start local but eventually be offered across Canada and in various languages. A potential collaboration with First Book Canada and Raptors 905. The main focus of this project is to preliminarily develop plan with budget, marketing and recruitment resources, sponsorship letters, and consider things like online safety before we launch.

Max’s Big Ride

Project: Research Hackathon

In partnership with the Social Innovation Project, we are looking for students in ARW to help support and execute our online Research Hackathon. This event will bring together researchers to connect and contribute to a research question related to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.



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

Become an ARW Community Leader  

Interested in volunteering for a Community Leader role for ARW? Consider registering for the Community Leadership Development Program, a full-year program focused on helping students develop skills in team building, facilitation, conflict resolution, leadership awareness and more!  

To learn more about this program, click here  

Registration Information 

Registration will open in December 2021


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

Michelle Atkinson
Community Engagement Coordinator

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