A Sheridan student teaching a group of youth seated on the floor

Cyber Smart pilot program for youth delivered by Sheridan a success

Dec 7, 2022

This fall, youth across Oakville participated in Engage. Empower. Connect (E2C) – a project created by Actua and delivered by Sheridan students that aims to empower youth to explore, create and connect responsibly online. As an Actua Network member, Sheridan’s Youth Amplified Initiative was a key partner in helping to pilot the E2C Cyber Smart Education program.

The E2C program empowers youth to be responsible digital citizens with the ability to create positive and inclusive spaces online, while also touching upon the risks involved in online interactions and how they can be avoided. The curriculum also introduces youth to fulfilling careers in cyber security.

"We are thrilled to have Sheridan's Youth Amplified Initiative advance our cyber smart education pilot project among local youth," said Jennifer Ladipo, Manager, National Programs, Actua. "Youth Amplified is playing a critical role in helping Actua determine the most meaningful and effective way to empower youth with the skills and confidence to critically assess online interactions, be proactive about online threats and use technology in innovative, healthy and safe ways."

In partnership with the YMCA of Oakville, Sheridan’s Youth Amplified team piloted E2C over the course of six-weeks in after-school programs and youth groups at several locations across the Town of Oakville. Julia Catalano, Community Engagement Specialist at Sheridan, was instrumental in leading the partnership with YMCA of Oakville and other community partners, as well as guiding our student instructors.

“We are so excited to partner with Sheridan College to deliver STEAM Workshops and the E2C program within our programs,” said Teresa Rinaldi, YMCA Manager Camp, Community Outreach and Special Events. “The content is interesting, age appropriate and relevant to issues that our students face day to day, and the facilitators have a passion for the subject, and it shows,” added Alicia McDonald, On-Site Supervisor, St. Andrew Child Care at YMCA of Oakville.

Sheridan students were trained to deliver program content ahead of the pilot program launch. As facilitators, they played a key role in the student experience and program delivery to youth from Grades 2 to 12.

“Each week, we engage in fun and informative activities, play games, and strengthen our technological literacy skills together in a welcoming and judgement-free environment,” explained Andreja Morrison, Student Team Lead for youth outreach programming at Sheridan and fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Interaction Design program. “E2C is a wonderful program that equips kids with the knowledge and expertise needed to safely navigate the sometimes-confusing world of the internet. As I often say when talking about E2C, I wish I had something like this when I was growing up.”

The E2C pilot is part of Sheridan’s efforts to support youth facing barriers in Halton and Peel with the tools and resources they need to access post-secondary education and succeed. "Education has the ability to transform lives and our youth deserve the opportunity to pursue it,” said Dr. Janet Morrison, Sheridan President and Vice Chancellor. “I’m proud of Sheridan’s Youth Amplified and the strides that we have taken to create more pathways to higher education through our programs.”

Last year, Youth Amplified programs reached more than 350 youth across Halton and Peel, with the help of over 50 Sheridan students and staff who shared their expertise as mentors or guest speakers. The initiative also forged 11 partnerships with organizations across the community, including Peel Regional Police, which has significantly contributed to its growth.

“Sheridan College and Peel Regional Police have a shared vision that builds upon the knowledge that education is a positive and powerful pathway to a brighter future,” said Chief Nishan Duraiappah, Peel Regional Police. “In providing access to postsecondary education, Sheridan and its partners are providing safe spaces for our young people to develop the skills to recognize the risks and responsibilities of being a positive community member.” Chief Duraiappah and Peel Regional Police have also contributed to Actua’s E2C program development in an advisory capacity, bringing the relationship full circle.

Sheridan’s School of Applied Computing has been a major player in supporting local youth with an interest in computer sciences as well. This past summer, it delivered its first in-person Computer Science Camp for youth ages 11-14 years at Sheridan’s Davis Campus in Brampton. The School of Applied Computing also partnered with the Brampton Chapter of Black Boys Code in November to welcome 25 boys ages 12-17 years for an Introduction to Computer Science with Python 3 workshop.

Learn more about Youth Amplified at Sheridan by visiting the Youth Amplified page or viewing the 2021-2022 Youth Amplified Impact Report.

About Actua

Actua is Canada’s largest science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) youth outreach network representing over 40 university and college- based members. Each year, Actua’s growing network of member organizations reach over 350,000 young Canadians in 500 communities nationwide. Actua focuses on the engagement of underrepresented youth through specialized programs for Indigenous youth, girls and young women, at-risk youth and youth living in Northern and remote communities. Actua’s major funding partners include: Government of Canada, Google Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, RBC Foundation, Suncor Energy Foundation, TD, Toyota Canada Foundation, Finning Canada, Microsoft Canada, Imperial, and Lockheed Martin Canada. For more information about Actua, visit actua.ca.

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Keiko Kataoka
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