During National Volunteer Week, April 24 – 30, we salute the thousands of volunteers who have contributed so much to OJEN’s success since our launch 20 years ago.
We began in 2002 with a mission to promote understanding, education, and dialogue to support a responsive and inclusive justice system. With minimal staff and a shoestring budget, volunteers from the justice and education sectors rallied to support the creation of our earliest programs and resources for high school students and teachers: Courthouse Visits, Law Day events, mock trial tournaments, the Summer Law Institute and more.
Thanks to the generous support of volunteers from every region of the province, OJEN quickly expanded programming beyond the classroom to focus on justice education in community spaces. Experiential mock trials, Justice 101 workshops and programs that addressed the legal needs of specific groups of youth required the recruitment of justice sector volunteers from diverse backgrounds and legal expertise. Again, justice sector volunteers embraced the opportunity to give their time and experience to engage in shared learning with youth.
Now in 2022, OJEN is a leader in youth-focused public legal education. Over a million young people in the province have learned about the law, connected with justice sector professionals, and gained the legal life skills to manage the legal aspects of their lives. This is a vital aspect of increasing access to justice for Ontario citizens.
Volunteers are key to OJEN’s success
We are grateful to the judges, justices of the peace, lawyers, law students, court staff, police officers, educators, community workers and many others who have contributed so much to OJEN over the past 20 years. Here are just a few of the ways our volunteers have supported our justice education initiatives:
- Coaching mock trial teams
- Speaking to classes visiting local courthouses
- Sharing their personal journeys to a career in law
- Informing youth about their rights when engaging with police
- Working with OJEN staff to pilot a new justice education program
- Sitting on local OJEN committees
- Developing/reviewing teaching resources
- Leading professional development workshops for teachers, and other trusted intermediaries
Thank you very much to all of our wonderful volunteers! Celebrating our 20th anniversary, we wouldn’t be here without you!