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Eight student-led teams win awards to realize their ideas for community impact

May 14, 2021

By Chris Yakimov

From helping Special Olympic athletes keep fit, to providing a safe and welcoming space for new refugee womxn, the winners of the SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition are realizing their dreams of making a meaningful impact.

Last fall, 26 teams submitted ideas that described their ideas for working with community groups and individuals to realize brave, transformational change. Those ideas were assessed, and teams with strong ones were invited to prepare detailed proposals for submission, outlining the communities they were working with and in, their activities, a budget and their intended impact (as well as how they’d measure it). From there, a shortlist of teams was selected to present virtually to a panel of judges in late February, competing for award money to implement their ideas. When the dust (pixels?) settled, eight teams had emerged with the privilege and responsibility of working well with their partners to put their ideas into action.

“SFU’s Office of Community Engagement is so pleased to be able to support the good work that students are doing with their community partners,” says Matthew Grant, director of SFU’s Office of Community Engagement. “Each year of this competition brings forth stunning creativity and innovation.”

Congratulations to our winners! We are so excited to share their ambitious and creative projects:


AutDialogues is a two-day series of online community dialogues on improving mental health among autistic youth and adults in B.C. and Ontario. We will connect researchers, mental health care providers, educators, autistic people and their families to identify gaps and create recommendations for schools, homes, community organizations, mental health clinics and governments. The series will generate novel, actionable solutions through networking, information sharing and cross-sector discussion.  

Team members: Vivian Ly (SFU), Iris Parker (North Island College)

Community Partners: Autistics United BC,  SFU Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab


BYO is a mobile app-based program that motivates individuals to bring their own cup through a variety of mechanisms such as rewards and impact tracking. On top of incentivizing this behavior, a portion of the usual cup discount will be allocated towards a tree planting initiative, encouraging customers and cafes alike to think bigger while sparking conversations around the larger collective role of consumer practices.  

Team members: Priscilla Lam (SFU), Angelica Tso (UBC)

Partnering with local cafés in the Vancouver area.


Naloxone kits save lives. There are currently no youth-run overdose prevention programs in Port Moody, Coquitlam or Port Coquitlam. NaloxHome will provide much-needed education and naloxone training to youth in Tri-Cities.

Team members: Chloe Goodison (SFU)

Community Partners: Tri-Cities Community Action Team (TCCAT); School District 43 (Coquitlam, Port Moody, Coquitlam); SHARE Family and Community Services; Fraser Health; City of Coquitlam; City of Port Moody; City of Port Coquitlam

SPARK Foundation

SPARK foundation staff, volunteers and board members will come together virtually to research, collect, purchase and package care packages for 500 families in Surrey, B.C.

Team members: Amandeep Boparai (SFU), Rochelle Prasad (SFU)

Community Partners: Peoples Full Gospel ChurchCity Dream CentreCommunity Foundations CanadaRed Cross CanadaVancity Cedar Hills

Special Olympics Home Workouts

Special Olympics Home Workouts is a seven week virtual fitness and health education program for Special Olympics British Columbia (SOBC) athletes in Vancouver and Burnaby. This program aims to foster health education and create a space for athletes to meet and socialize while getting in shape. Personal progress will be measured through fitness testing at the beginning and end of the program.

Team members: Team members:  Julie Seal (SFU), Sophie Kitchen (SOBC Coach), Rui Ando (SOBC Coach), Janna Werry (SOBC Staff)

Community Partner: Special Olympics British Columbia (SOBC)

Talking Trekkers

Refugee womxn are found to be at greater risk for social isolation and many suffer from the layered discriminatory effects of their gender, race, and religion in Canadian society. Establishing a new home here is limited to not only finding a house, a school, a job, but it’s also about creating community and feeling like you belong. The goal of this project is to provide a safer and welcoming space for newly arrived refugee womxn to engage with each other and with other womxn in the greater Vancouver area.  

Team members:  Naima Osman (SFU), Tsion Gebremedhen (SFU)

Community Partner: Project Love Run (PLR)


Unitiate provides a free online platform accessible by high school students to receive additional support to help mobilize them towards their desired career and post-secondary institution. Our mandate is to provide peer and youth-led support to increase the number of students pursuing higher education and decrease the number of indecisive students who are unsure of which program/major to pursue.

Team members: Guo Hong (SFU), Darshpreet Badyal (SFU)

Community Partners: SFU PennyDropsYell CanadaBeedie Luminaries

Visible Movement Project

In 2019, SFU BPK purchased the Anatomage Table, cutting-edge technology that is the gold standard for anatomy. We want to bring this engaging, interactive digital experience to high school students in Burnaby, Surrey, Vancouver and across B.C. There are only five tables in Canada and none in British Columbia. We want to share our knowledge of human anatomy and this outstanding tool with high school students.

Team members: Linden Lechner (SFU), Camille Velasco (SFU), Benjamin Chang (SFU), Natasha Smith (SFU Alumni)

Community Partners: SFU Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology (BPK), Local School Districts

Start dreaming of your project ideas now

While this year’s SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition is complete and the work is underway, it’s never too early to start thinking about what you might do if you had $3,000 to ignite transformational change. The competition will open again next fall.