40 Hours of Community Service: A Guide for Students and Families
In 1999 the Government of Ontario began requiring students to complete a minimum of 40 hours of community service as part of the requirements for an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). The purpose is to “encourage students to develop awareness and understanding of civic responsibility and the role they can play and the contributions they can make in supporting and strengthening their communities.”
Volunteering benefits both students and their communities!
Student volunteers gain valuable experiences and are provided with opportunities to network; building new friendships and making connections for future employment. They also learn new skills and continue to build on others. Volunteers are able to deepen their understanding about their local community and how it works. Through completing service hours, they may also enhance their own self-esteem and self-confidence. They can feel pride in having directly contributed to their community. Volunteering helps us all become more compassionate, understanding and engaged citizens!
Communities greatly benefit from student volunteers who provide new perspectives, ideas and ways of doing things. Movements can build from students’ enthusiasm as they motivate others towards a cause or greater participation in community events. Many organizations and events would not be possible without the hard work of volunteers!
What types of activities are eligible?
Many types of organizations and events offer opportunities for students to complete community service hours. The list below provides just a few examples of eligible activities. However, if you have an idea that is not included here, please see your guidance counselor or principal who can ensure your hours will count.
Assisting with an event or activity designed to benefit the community in general (eg. food drives, charitable concerts or BBQs)
Volunteering in galleries, libraries, or community productions
Assisting with an event or activity to support a not-for-profit agency, institution or foundation (eg. shelters, fire departments, the Ski Village)
Any program that promotes tutoring, mentoring, visiting or coaching, or assists others in need
Participation in an event or activity that supports ethical work of a global nature or that promotes positive environmental awareness (eg. flower/tree planting, beautification projects, recycling projects, park or beach clean ups)
Participation in an event or activity that contributes to the health and well-being of others (eg. helping to organize or assisting with a blood drive, volunteering at a hospital or group home for the elderly)
What types of activities are ineligible?
The Ministry of Education has provided a list of activities that may not be chosen as community service activities. An ineligible activity is one that:
is a requirement of a class or course in which the student is enrolled (e.g., co-operative education portion of a course, job shadow, work experience).
takes place during regular class time on a school day. However, an activity that takes place during lunch breaks or a “spare” period is permissible.
takes place in a logging or mining environment, if the student is under sixteen years of age.
takes place in a factory, if the student is under fifteen years of age.
takes place in a workplace other than a factory, if the student is under fourteen years of age and is NOT accompanied by an adult
would normally be performed for wages by a person in the workplace.
involves the operation of a vehicle, power tools, or scaffolding.
involves the administration of any type or form of medication or medical procedure to other persons.
involves handling of substances classed as “designated substances” under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
requires the knowledge of a trades person whose trade is regulated by the provincial government.
involves banking or the handling of securities, or the handling of jewellery, works of art, antiques or other valuables.
consists of duties normally performed in the home (i.e., daily chores) or personal recreation activities.
involves a court-ordered program (e.g., community-service program for young offenders, probationary program).
is done for an individual (eg. shovelling a neighbour’s driveway or piling wood for a relative).
When can I get my hours?
After a student graduates from Grade 8, they can begin collecting community service hours on July 1st of that year. Students may complete their volunteer hours at any time during their secondary school program, though they are encouraged to do so within the first 2 years.
What steps do I take to make sure my service hours count?
There are several important steps to take to ensure that your participation in volunteer activities count towards the 40 hours of community service.
Get the form. All TDSS students are required to complete a Community Involvement Form to track completed community service hours. You can pick up a form at the office or in Guidance.
Have an activity in mind? Get it pre-approved. Community service hours must be pre-approved by the school’s administration (Principal or Vice Principal). If you would like to volunteer over the summer and are having difficulty contacting an administrator, please ensure you have read over the list of eligible and ineligible activities, and confirm yours meets accepted criteria. While all acts of community service are encouraged and worthwhile, only those that that are eligible will count towards your 40 hours.
Volunteer. Do the work. Meet new people. Engage in new experiences. Have fun!
Get your form signed. Once you have completed your time with a specific organization or at an event, you must get a sponsor (an adult who supervised you) to sign the Community Involvement Form. If you were not able to get your hours pre-approved by administration, you will also have to get the signature of your Principal or Vice Principal at this time.
Track your hours. Bring your form to Guidance so they can input and track your completed hours. You should submit your form to Guidance after each activity; you do NOT have to wait until your 40 hours have been completed.
Repeat. Remember, you need to complete 40 hours of community services before you graduate.
A word about insurance coverage...
The board's liability insurance will protect the students and the community sponsors for liability lawsuits that may arise from the students' activities in the community involvement program for the 40 hours required. The Board's insurance, however, does not cover lawsuits that arise from injury in the workplace due to sponsor negligence. Though not required, it is recommended that students involved in the program purchase Student Accident Insurance. The Board expects community sponsors to ensure that student volunteers are provided with safety instructions, and are trained and supervised to ensure a safe and mutually beneficial volunteer experience.
For a printed copy of the above information, click TDSS Guide to Completing Volunteer Hours.pdf