“It was a real privilege to see our beautiful city through their eyes.”
Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold shared those words on social media this week, reflecting on the morning she spent with a group of Grade 4 students from Beaverbrook School. The young citizens were winners of a contest to come up with Moncton’s Big Idea – and their ideas, as well as the City’s celebration of them, are nothing short of inspiring (and exactly the type of youth engagement I was referring to in last week’s column).
Wondering what’s important to nine- and ten-year-olds in Moncton? Sustainable living. Engaging outdoor spaces. Educational experiences. Year-round facilities for physical activities. Cultural diversity and inclusion. They might not use those words, but these are the cornerstones of what they shared with the Mayor.
As part of the Moncton’s Big Idea contest, these students first identified the local elements that make this city a great place to live. They love the splash parks, playgrounds, and Magnetic Hill Zoo. They talked about hospitals and being close to the ocean. They gave thanks for the Boys & Girls Club of Moncton and MAGMA. And when it came to what we should be doing next? They had some ‘typical kid’ answers, like getting a Chuck-e-Cheese and a LEGO theme park. But they also wanted cooking classes, swim lessons for all kids, and a community centre in the Parkton neighbourhood. They dreamed of an archeology centre that showcases fossils and a trading post for bartering goods.
Then, there was the game changer. The idea that is so simple it’s gaining great praise on social media. Against the backdrop of heavy garbage weeks and ‘curbside treasures’ promotions, these young students suggest a year-round initiative that would help keep items that still have value from the landfill. A simple yellow bag that can be placed out with your weekly garbage. Inside, items like outgrown sneakers, old glasses, toys, blankets, and anything else that might be re-used. Simple. Effective. Inspired.
There’s a second part to this story, though. These young students, many of whom have lived in Moncton all 10 years of their lives? They hadn’t seen the tidal bore before this week. We have visitors from around the world who come to surf this natural phenomenon – and yet what are we all doing to embrace this element of our heritage and ensure our children know about it?
The power of the tidal bore is much more than physical. It’s a piece of the shared identity of everyone who calls this area home. Cultivating pride among our youth – and everyone else – in the unique ‘claim to fame’ of the tidal bore is the perfect way to build on our common core value of resiliency.
Resurgo. I Rise Again. This city, and everyone who lives here, has the power within to overcome any obstacle. Sometimes, those obstacles will knock us down. It will feel like they are dragging us out to sea. But we can push back and rise up. And together, we can reach heights that grab the attention of people around the world. Imagine the international acclaim if our city implemented a zero-waste ‘yellow bag’ system based on the dreams of elementary students?
This week, the Mayor helped 15 young citizens of Moncton understand the power of the tidal bore and the importance of the motto ‘resurgo.’ I challenge everyone reading to do the same. Take a moment to stand by the shores of the Petitcodiac and watch the tidal bore. Share it with a friend. Explain it to a child. Dream big and help each other rise up. And maybe set out a yellow bag with next week’s trash.