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AVEC (Avenir viable école communauté)

1) Category:
• General program

2) Issues Behind the Program:

• Psychologist Jane Ledingham, who studied how student behavior and schoolyard layout
are correlated, posits that aggression levels are higher in small schoolyards.
• Francine Ferland, an occupational therapy professor at Université de Montréal who is
involved in research on the importance of play for children, believes that the
significance of recess-time is underestimated. Recess is meant to release students’
pent-up energy, to give them to fresh air, and to enable them to socialize. As she sees
it, schoolyards have to be more than mere stretches of asphalt.
• The state of the physical activity of children and teenagers in Québec has worrisome
consequences in terms of health. The percentage of young people who are overweight is
increasing in industrialized countries, ranging from 10% to 25%, depending on the
evaluation methods and criteria used (Bar-Or, 1994; Limbert and coll., 1994; Stephens
and Craig, 1990; Troiano and coll., 1995; Troiano and Flegal, 1998). Juvenile obesity is
the leading clinical disorder in pediatrics and poses a public health problem because of
its high prevalence and its adverse effects physically, psychologically and socially.

3) Objectives:
• Help schools undertake partnerships between students, Governing Boards, school staff
and the immediate community in order to revitalize schools’ physical and social
• Play up the idea of cooperation to young people by introducing them to the various
aspects of planning, implementing and assessing the projects they carry out.
• Support schools by providing the tools they need to establish and develop the program
within their respective communities.
• Provide staff with the tools needed to make the idea of sustainable development
accessible to young people so that they can be actively involved in education for a
viable future.

4) Environment:
• Primary and secondary schools

5) Target Group:
• Students from 5 to 16 years old

This factsheet was taken from the following website: http://rire.ctreq.qc.ca/. Page 1 of 5
6) Key Words:
• AVEC, avenir viable école communauté, cœuréaction, school-family-community
partnership, general program, schoolyard refurbishing, environment, sustainable
development, physical activity, school atmosphere, social development, violence,
accountability, cooperation

7) Description:
• AVEC is a program for revitalization of young people’s physical and social environment
(the school and its surroundings) by the young people themselves in association with
their immediate community. This action, cooperation, and responsible citizenship
program is part of education for a viable future.
• The program, launched in 2005, consists mainly of involving youth, Governing Boards,
school staff, and the immediate community (citizens, organizations, businesses,
municipal councillor, school commissioner, MNA, library, seniors’ residence, etc.) in a
project to revitalize their living environment. The project also enables the stakeholders
to get free eco-citizenship training.
• The work carried out to refurbish and re-arrange the schoolyard made all those involved
aware that in under one year, and with the help of numerous volunteers, a much
greener schoolyard could emerge. The project also promotes the idea of cooperation to
young people by introducing them to the various aspects of planning, implementing and
assessing the projects they carry out.

8) Steps:
I. Planning: Official commitment by the school principal and the Governing Board,
training of a committee composed of the school staff, parents and community partners,
identification of common aims and objectives, inventory of needs, etc.
II. Consultation of the stakeholders in prospecting for resources and means for
improving the schoolyard (school staff, parents, students, members of the
community): leading of class discussions, surveys, meetings, etc.
III. Arrangement of an appropriate space: Evaluation of the schoolyard’s ground material,
infrastructure (drainage, fill, thaw resistance, etc.) and protective surfaces;
arrangement of play areas, green spaces, places to sit and relax, installation of various
equipment (module, swings, slides, etc.); delimitation of play areas, etc.
IV. Organization of the available material: System for managing the material, storage
area, inventory of the material and planning of purchases.
V. Leadership and organization of activity periods: Agreement with recess and lunch-
time supervisors, slate of diversified activities adapted to the seasons, leadership for
special activities, etc.
VI. Encouragement of harmonious and pacific relations: Acknowledgement of youth
participation in activities, adoption and promotion of a code of conduct, recruitment
and training of youth leaders, etc.
VII. Creation of a safe environment: First-aid and security training for staff and a few
students, regular inspection of the equipment and the play areas, etc.

9) Activities/Actions:

This factsheet was taken from the following website: http://rire.ctreq.qc.ca/. Page 2 of 5
• The program can evolve and be customized to each school and its vision and priorities.
Organized activities are left to the discretion of participating schools and vary according
to the needs of the school communities. To sum up, each school must begin by having
the students dream up their schoolyard through sketches, mock-ups or texts. Next,
through a series of steps and activities, the students and teachers are invited to
transform the schoolyard into an outdoor classroom by planting different kinds of native
trees and shrubs and by having vegetable gardens.

10) Resources Required:

• Human resources:
o AVEC management committee
o AVEC school implementation committee
o Participants (students, citizens, community organizations, businesses, volunteers,
municipality, libraries, seniors’ residences, etc.)
• Financial resources:
o Financial assistance is in the form of grants from the Conférence régionale des élus
(CRÉ) de Laval for projects that qualify based on specific criteria.
o However, the project can be easily adapted for schools elsewhere in Québec, and
can be funded under MELS’ Programme d’embellissement des cours d’école
(measure to beautify schoolyards - 50530) [In French only] or under the Programme
de soutien aux installations sportives et récréatives of the Fonds pour le
développement du sport et de l’activité physique. [In French only]

11) Roles of the Participants:

• Management committee:
o implements AVEC;
o monitors agreement administration;
o makes recommendations to agreement signatories regarding required re-
adjustments or modifications;
o establishes the work committees required for achieving program objectives;
o produces an annual report.
• School implementation committee:
o inventories needs;
o determines common aims and objectives;
o organizes re-arrangement of the schoolyard, the available material, the activities
offered, etc.
o adopts a code of conduct for the schoolyard and promotes it;
o ensures that the schoolyard is a safe place.
• Participants:
o are involved in planning and evaluating the project;
o collaborate in tasks to refurbish and re-arrange the schoolyard and, if possible,
provide the right resources;
o participate in organized activities;
o are involved in actions aimed at sustainable development.

This factsheet was taken from the following website: http://rire.ctreq.qc.ca/. Page 3 of 5
12) Scientific Basis or Validity:
• Researchers in the field of physical activity concur that to combat the progressive
disengagement of young people from physical activity, a vast array of measures must be
deployed in every part of their lives—at home, at school, and within the community. It
bears pointing out that children and teens need to be physically active every day or
practically every day. The quality of the environment at school is therefore crucial
because it is often there that they have the opportunity for positive experiences in
terms of physical activities and sports. (Kino-Québec, Scientific Committee, 2004)
• A Québec study (Chevalier and coll., 1997) on the impact of organized recess on
children’s behavior at the primary-school level shows that a better organized schoolyard
(modules and play material and equipment, re-organization of the layout, organized
games, supervisor involvement, interventions, etc.) at recess and lunch-time had a
noticeable positive influence on student behaviour. The general atmosphere in the
schoolyard was more harmonious, the number of conflicts reduced, and students as a
whole were busier at a particular activity in the schoolyard. (See the school’s research
• AVEC was the brainchild of the Ville de Laval and two school boards. The project to
enhance schoolyards was developed in association with Université du Québec à
Chicoutimi and its Chair in Eco-Consulting, which drafted an instructional handbook
analyzing our living habits and consumer needs and proposing activities for sustainable
development that help students become aware of the consequences of human activity
(food choices, building construction, means of transportation, etc.).

13) Program Material:

• Website:
http://www.crelaval.qc.ca/pages/ententes/programme_avec.aspx?lang=FR-CA [In
French only]
• Pedagogical guide for understanding sustainable development
• AVEC Program assistance request form
• Offres de formations (training) for teachers and other professionals, green brigades, and
the parents involved in AVEC (AQPERE can also provide customized training.) [In French
• Classroom support
• Guide for Environmental Report (guide for drafting an institutional environmental
• Guide de verdissement intérieur en milieu scolaire (school greening) [In French only]
• Répertoire électronique des ressources en éducation relative à l’environnement by
AQPERE (training, instructional tools, events, guided tours) [In French only]

14) Additional Information:

• The information contained in this factsheet was taken, in whole or in part, from:

This factsheet was taken from the following website: http://rire.ctreq.qc.ca/. Page 4 of 5
o http://www.forumjeunesselaval.qc.ca/pages/projets/avec.aspx?lang=FR-CA;
o http://www.crelaval.qc.ca/pages/ententes/programme_avec.aspx
o http://www.inspq.qc.ca/DeveloppementSocial/article.asp?p=41&a=0268;
o http://www.mels.gouv.qc.ca/sections/viragesante/pdf/fiche5.pdf;
o http://www.mels.gouv.qc.ca/sections/viragesante/index.asp?
o http://fr.canoe.ca/infos/dossiers/archives/2006/09/20060921-224422.html;
o http://www.canoe.com/infos/quebeccanada/archives/2006/09/20060922-
o http://www.preventionviolence.ca/pdf/Gamache%20et%20Laberge.pdf.

15) Contacts:
• Forum jeunesse Laval
CRÉ de Laval
1555, boul. Chomedey, bureau 220
Laval (Québec) H7V 3Z1
Tel.: 450 686-4343
Email: jeunesse@crelaval.qc.ca

This factsheet was taken from the following website: http://rire.ctreq.qc.ca/. Page 5 of 5