Patrick Handrigan, a grade 11 student at O’Donel High School in Mount Pearl, will be representing Newfoundland and Labrador on an ACT 4 Global Change Tour in Uganda this July.

The eighteen-day ACT 4 Global Change Tour is organized by the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC), the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation (ACGC) and aims to help Atlantic Canadian youth better understand international cooperation.

The selected students will visit non-governmental organizations in Unganda, including organizations focused on healthcare, education, art activism, and  peace-building.

“To be able to see these organizations’ impact on the daily life of Ugandan citizens first hand will be incredible and eye opening to me. The relationships made between Canadians and Ugandans from MCC’s work proves that when we work together, we can achieve great things” says Patrick.

Patrick is passionate about social justice and has done a ton of volunteer work throughout his Junior High and High School career. In Junior High he was part of the St. Peter’s Junior High Social Action Team and helped the team raise money for charity.

In 2013 he was selected to attend WE Day in Halifax, an annual concert that aims kick off a year of social justice initiatives, and celebrates young people who have created positive change in their communities.

“I think if I hadn’t had those incredible experiences in Junior High, learning about social justice issues, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to do this trip,” Patrick said.

Patrick continued to devote a lot of time to improving his community through volunteer work throughout high school. He was elected to the student council at O’Donel and chosen to be one of eight student mentors. As a mentor he tutored other high school students on an almost daily basis.

He is also part of the school’s First Responders Team, offering to be present at events inside and outside the school as a first responder with first aid training.

Patrick’s interest in social justice and commitment to volunteer work make him an excellent candidate for the trip. However, he said it took his parents a little while to warm up to the idea of him going.

“I was actually a little nervous when I found out I was chosen to go on the trip because I got a reference letter from my teacher before I asked my parents if I could go. My mom only had a couple days to think about it and make a decision,” Patrick said.

In the months leading up to the ACT 4 Global Change Tour all the participants have been doing weekly video conferencing sessions with the Tour’s organizers. Patrick explained the sessions have focused on giving background information about the NGO’s the students will be visiting.

“After all the training we’ve done through video conferencing over the past few months, my parents are relaxed and I’m totally excited,” Patrick said.

Students on the ACT 4 Global Change Tour will be posting updates about their trip on Instagram using the hashtag #ACICTour. This fall they will  give presentations about the tour to students and organizations back home in the hope of inspiring more young people to get involved in social justice movements on a local and global scale.