VIU Education Students Encourage Youth to Vote in Federal Election

Year 6 Education students at VIU are encouraging local youth to vote in Monday's federal election. Left to right: Tara Davis, Ryan Wilkes, Daniel Callaghan, Nikki Gaffney, Breanna Chin and David Gu.

October 16, 2015 - 12:30pm

Get out and vote.

That’s the message to youth in Nanaimo from Year 6 Education students at Vancouver Island University (VIU).

The students, all completing their final semester of VIU’s teacher training program, created a website called You Only Vote Once ( as part their class ‘community action project.’

“Youth voting is a concern,” said student Dan Callaghan. “There’s apathy and disengagement. Everyone asks ‘how do we get more young people out to vote?’ As beginning teachers, we believe we can make a difference in classrooms. We can create awareness in schools and gets kids primed to vote.”

The group’s website informs people about political parties and local candidates, and provides information about how youth can register to vote.

“There’s been a lot of confusion with changes to the Elections Act and identification requirements,” added Callaghan. “Our website clearly explains the process.”

Callaghan said the group interviewed all Nanaimo candidates and posted their responses to key questions online, taking great care to remain unbiased and unpartisan.

Student Tara Davis said completing the community action project was a useful learning tool because “it taught us how to implement an inquiry based approach in our own classrooms.

“As a team, we came up with a question we wanted answered – how to get more youth to vote – then we figured out an action plan to solve it, with guidance from our faculty mentor,” she said.

“This is a practice we can take into our classrooms as new teachers. Kids today don’t want a teacher to stand in front of the room and deliver a lecture. We have to be more creative in the way we teach 21st century learners. Learning needs to be engaging, relevant and technology driven. An inquiry-based approach to teaching, where students and teachers work collaboratively together to facilitate their journey through education, is one way to achieve that.”

John Phipps, the group’s faculty mentor, said the inquiry based learning approach is part of a new “Breaking Barriers in Education” teaching model adopted by VIU’s Education program almost two years ago for fifth year Bachelor of Education and sixth year post-baccalaurette degree students.

“We’re changing the way we teach new teachers,” he explained. We’re using an inquiry based method because it's a purposeful way of having students more engaged in learning. It also fits in well with the BC government’s new BC Ed Plan which overhauls the kindergarten to grade 12 system.”

Phipps added that community action projects are an important part of the program because they “involve students working collaboratively to make a positive difference within their school or community.”

Other group community action projects completed by Year 6 Education students included a clothing drive, an elementary school breakfast program in Parksville, a heritage garden at Fairview Elementary in Nanaimo, and an after school recreation day at Georgia Avenue in Nanaimo.

For more information about VIU Education programs, visit and for more information about the Breaking Barriers in Education teaching model go to 



Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University

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