A recent Netflix docuseries explored the world’s notable ‘Blue Zones’ – regions where people tend to live, on average, longer than the rest of the world.
Students in Collingwood’s Entrepreneurship 12 course were tasked with choosing a BC city they felt had the strongest ability to become a Blue Zone, and four of the classes’ most promising teams presented their pitches to a panel of esteemed judges, including Jim Bailey (Director of Planning for District of West Vancouver), Leslie Shieh (Co-Director of Tomo Spaces), Salim Hassan (tech entrepreneur), and Michael Paterson (financial consultant).
Acting as city planning consultants, students had to create a plan on how each municipality could develop infrastructure, programs, and cultural changes to achieve this goal. The students picked Port Moody, New Westminster, Mission, and Chilliwack for their analysis and pitched ideas like community gardens, farmers markets, pickleball tournaments, and walkability to enhance the population’s longevity. The ideas came with financial evaluation and reasoning, all done in just a week. Nerves may have been high before their big presentations but the students were excited.
Each of the presentations utilized the design thinking process: a five-stage foundational process used in entrepreneurship to solve problems. The five stages include ‘empathize’ to research users’ needs, ‘define’ to state users’ needs, ‘ideate’ to challenge assumptions and generate ideas, ‘prototype’ to create solutions, and ‘test’ to try out solutions. The judges then provided feedback based on their personal expertise and understanding of the project.
The winning team, who chose Mission for their case study, interviewed city leaders, created a website and developed a python algorithm that found the BC city which best mimicked the characteristics and qualities of current and artificial Blue Zones. One of the judges stated they would hire the team based on their presentation.
Jim Bailey, who now leads the Planning department for District of West Vancouver and has prior experience as a planner at Translink and the City of Vancouver, commended the teams for their multi-faceted approaches.
“The ideas they talked about today are things that we think about as planners all the time. Whenever I go and talk to students, what I take away is that there’s a huge amount of capacity for younger people to meaningfully contribute to their community.”
“They have a lot to offer, not just as students, but as actual people. They should be in our council chambers talking about their ideas and their future. They should be encouraged to come out and participate in our local processes. They have my email, they can contact me anytime,” he added.
Collingwood students generously contribute to their communities in a variety of ways, such as through service initiatives like Screentime for Seniors, District advisory committees, and other projects. In 2023, several students won a West Vancouver Appreciation Award for their work. For students who have not yet thought about getting involved at the municipal level, West Vancouver has many youth leadership opportunities available.
- Senior School