GIV­ING BACK

Pot­holes and health care among is­sues that gar­nered at­ten­tion at Brook­land

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY CHRIS­TIAN ROACH news@cb­post.com

Lo­cal boy comes home and launches event to raise money for lo­cal dance venues.

Pot­holes, poverty and health care were all top­ics of dis­cus­sion Mon­day at Brook­land El­e­men­tary School when stu­dents took part in a “par­al­lel elec­tion” as part of the Stu­dent Vote pro­gram.

A day ahead of the pro­vin­cial elec­tion, Neeta Ku­mar-Brit­ten’s Grade 5 class­room was filled with chil­dren talk­ing pol­i­tics and dis­cussing their favourite can­di­dates.

Some stu­dents who voted shared the frus­tra­tions of adults who will be go­ing to the polls to­day.

“They are clos­ing down the emer­gency rooms. The Cape Bre­ton Re­gional (Hospi­tal) can’t take so much…” said third grader Lo­gan Daye.

Emma Cruick­shank, who’s in Grade 5, said in­fra­struc­ture is a prob­lem she would like to see solved.

“I don’t like the holes on the roads — pot­holes. They’re so bumpy. When we’re in my car, it scares my dog.”

Cruick­shank added she voted for (NDP can­di­date in Syd­ney-Whit­ney Pier) Madonna Doucette be­cause “she makes a

lot of good points.”

For the last month, teach­ers have been ed­u­cat­ing the chil­dren on top­ics like: pro­vin­cial par­ties and their lead­ers, can­di­dates in their rid­ings and what ex­actly vot­ing means in a democ­racy.

Ku­mar-Brit­ten spear­headed the idea to have a par­al­lel elec­tion at the el­e­men­tary school.

She has been in­volved with the Stu­dent Vote pro­gram for al­most 15 years. The na­tional pro­gram aims to teach stu­dents about how vot­ing works by giv­ing them hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence

cast­ing their own bal­lots. Ku­mar-Brit­ten said she’s al­ready seen the pos­i­tive ef­fect it has on the stu­dents.

“What has been the best part of the pro­gram is the con­ver­sa­tions in the class­room and the con­ver­sa­tions the kid’s have at home… about elec­tions and about democ­racy.”

Ku­mar-Brit­ten’s Grade 5s are

heav­ily in­volved in the process. Their class­room was des­ig­nated as the of­fi­cial polling sta­tion. Stu­dents like Matthew Shi­mon had jobs to keep things run­ning smoothly.

“Some peo­ple count bal­lots, some peo­ple cross off names and some guard the votes so peo­ple won’t look at them,” said Shi­mon.

The stu­dents at Brook­land

El­e­men­tary will be among more than three mil­lion chil­dren and youth who have taken part in the Stu­dent Vot­ing pro­gram since its in­cep­tion in 2003.

The pro­gram has been ex­pand­ing na­tion­ally since its start. The last Stu­dent Vote pro­gram in 2015 had a to­tal of 7,000 par­tic­i­pants — the most in its his­tory.

Brook­land El­e­men­tary stu­dents will get the results of their par­al­lel elec­tion later to­day.

CHRIS­TIAN ROACH/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Three stu­dents get ready to drop their bal­lots into the vot­ing box at Brook­land El­e­men­tary School in Syd­ney as part of the Stu­dent Vote pro­gram.

Ku­mar-Brit­ten

Daye

Shi­mon

Cruick­shank

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