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An Introduction to Community Action Groups: Bringing Students Together to Support their Communities

An Introduction to Community Action Groups: Bringing Students Together to Support their Communities

As we inch closer and closer to 2021, here at the Centre for Community Partnerships, we are hard at work preparing for the various events and opportunities available to support student life. With that being said, I think it’s about time I do a feature on one of my favourite aspects of the Centre for Community Partnerships – the CAGs program!

CAGs or Community Action Groups is the Centre for Community Partnerships’ newest avenue to engage social action. Piloted in Summer 2020, this program brings students together to support a community-identified priority or project. Facilitated by a peer group facilitator, each group of 8-10 students has 8 weeks in winter 2021 to create, develop and share their work. ​During weekly meetings, each group discusses topics related to community building and principles of equity. 

As the Centre for Community Partnerships works to build community, enhance capacity, and steward partnerships for curricular and co-curricular community-engaged learning at the University of Toronto, the CAGS program is a wonderful opportunity to broaden social justice initiatives in a virtual world. ​Participants are able to develop teamwork and critical reflection skills while working to support their communities and also build community amongst themselves!

You may question – why is this work important? CAGs presents one pathway to further social impact, by inspiring students to have their experiences heard, seen and represented and utilize their voices as true catalysts for social change!

Community Action Group members will be able to:

  • Meet weekly with their group to collaborate on their proposals and action items and attend professional development workshops to supplement learning.
  • Work on developing communication, collaboration and facilitation skills.
  • Engage in dialogue related to social justice, access, inclusion and anti-oppressive approaches to community engagement.
  • Share strategies for the continued development of a reflective practice.
  • Build a community of peers with a shared interest in social justice.

Here is what a few students have had to say about their experiences in the program:

“I learned that participating and volunteering even in small efforts, can have a huge influence on the community, especially during the pandemic” – CAGs participant, summer 2020. 

“I was really able to sharpen my team-work, communication and collaboration skills through this initiative. It provided the perfect opportunity to get involved and meet new people, inside and outside the community!” – CAGs participant, summer 2020. 

The CAGs program will resume in winter 2021, and is the perfect opportunity to get involved, get passionate and meet students who carry the same mission and goals that you do. Social justice is part of a vital framework that we must consider during these unprecedented times, and I encourage you all to get involved! 

If you are interested in this program, please register on CLNx using the “Experiential Learning” module. Enroll in “Community Action Groups (CAGs) – Winter 2021”.

For more information, visit: https://studentlife.utoronto.ca/program/students-community-action-groups/

A group of five students working together in a room.
Credit: University of Toronto, Student Life

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