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Youth Leadership Institutes and Symposia

Community Builders offers intensive leadership trainings that gather youth and adults from neighbouring schools together for joint leadership training. It is inspiring to participants to meet other like-minded leaders, share stories and goals for their communities, and develop leadership skills.


These trainings can range from 1 to 4 days. They can occur as a one-time option, or as a series of trainings that teams of participants return to over several years to gain more and more advanced leadership skills.


The programs can be funded through grants, school board funds or by groups of schools who fundraise for a collective project. In addition to bringing teams of student leaders together at a central site for leadership training, the programs may also be designed to include cross-generational events, classroom workshops, assemblies and teacher trainings in the individual schools involved. 


SYMPOSIA are 1- to 2-day events that bring together a group of students from neighbouring schools. They meet once a year, or possibly twice over two years. Symposia contain elements of the Institute program detailed below.


YOUTH LEADERSHIP INSTITUTES are of longer duration - generally two 4 days per school year (2 days then 2 days several weeks later). Participants are involved in Institutes for 1 to 4 years, depending on their community needs and funding. The full 4-year program is detailed below to explain the progression of training.

Contact us if you have an interested school or group of schools, and a fundraising idea.



  • A group of 2 to 6 schools in a neighbourhood are identified to begin an Institute program

  • The CB staff meet with administrators, teachers and parents to outline the Institute program.

  • The school selects one or more Lead Teachers and one or more Lead Parents to take the lead in supporting the project.

  • Arrangements are made to begin the introductory classroom workshops at each school.


(can be modified to shorter programs)

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4


Friends and Allies: Introduction to Leadership


  • CB trainers visit each school involved in the Institute project to present Friends and Allies introductory classroom workshops to individual classes (usually Grades 4 and 5, but can be delivered to older grades depending on which length of Institute program is selected). 

  • Ideas are introduced through drama, discussion and music. Themes include understanding that everyone is in our "community circle", taking pride in our diverse backgrounds, seeing the goodness in each other ("The Heart of the Child"), being powerful listeners, learning how to stop someone who is being mean and still keeping them in the circle, and more.

  • CB trainers and classroom teachers identify a team of ten to fifteen students who have shown particular interest in CB concepts during the introductory workshops. Students are selected with the goal of forming a diverse team of positive leaders for the school.

  • The teams of students from each school, accompanied by a Lead Teacher and Lead Parent(s), travel to a central location to meet with teams from two to six other neighbouring schools.

  • The students experience a full day of leadership training, and prepare to go back to their schools and lead an assembly for younger students.

  • The student leaders, along with the CB trainers, lead a Friends and Allies Assembly for primary grades in their school. This is a fun, accessible and highly participatory assembly featuring CB concepts through skits and music.



Everyone Counts, Everyone Belongs: Building an Inclusive School Community

  • The student teams come back together for their second Institute.

  • CB trainers guide the group through activities and discussions that explore how racism, sexism, boys' oppression, classism and other oppressions, as well as pressures to belong and be "cool", affect them and their classmates.

  • The students practice strategies for being an ally, and caring for the victim without excluding the person who is being mean.

  • Student leaders practise presentation skills and develop confidence to go back to school and present a workshop to Grades 2 through 4 called Everyone Counts, Everyone Belongs, about how to be an ally.

  • CB trainers visit the teams of students in their schools before the workshops for a final rehearsal. 

  • CB trainers also support Lead Teachers and Parents through pre- and post- Institute meetings, e-mail and phone communication.   


The Positive Power of Peers: Peer Mediation and Peer Support

  • The same group of young leaders come back together for their third Institute.

  • They learn to listen to peers who are experiencing challenges academically, emotionally or socially.

  • Students learn more about the impact of internalizing of oppression and mistreatment.

  • They learn mediation skills to creatively help people when they're 'hooked' in conflict.

  • Student leaders rehearse to present back at school the Positive Power of Peers workshop - a participatory workshop focused on dealing with conflict, aimed at Grades 5 to 6.



Leadership in Action: Inclusive School Projects

  • In the final year, the student leaders move to the next level of leadership and learn about action research.

  • They look with leaders’ eyes at their school community, and find out what their peers believe to be pressing inclusion issues at their schools.

  • Building on the skills and awareness they have developed in their first three years as Community Builders leaders, they choose one of the challenges facing their school related to inclusion or social justice that they would like to play a positive role in addressing.

  • With the support the CB trainers, the Lead Teachers and Lead Parents, they design and implement inclusive school leadership projects.

  • As the final step, they evaluate the success of their projects and plan the next steps in their leadership.

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