BLAST: A Promising Approach to Service, Ethics, and Leadership Development in Rural Canada


  • Zia Saleh Oxford University University of Alberta
  • Vance Nakonechny St. Mary School
  • Maurice St. Denis R.F. Staples Secondary School
  • Darren Nichols University of Alberta



service learning, ethics, leadership, youth development, rural


As youth define their identity and the values by which they live their lives, formative programs have the potential to change their life trajectories in productive ways.  This study aimed to investigate the impact of a rural youth development program that focused on service, ethics, and leadership. In this program, nine rural students (aged 13-18) initiated and led community service projects, engaged in educational sessions on ethics and character development, and formed a diverse social support network. Survey data and a thematic focus group analysis revealed that the program resulted in: (a) skill-building in the areas of teamwork, planning and life management, social interaction, and self-confidence; (b) increased interest and confidence in initiating service projects; (c) development of leadership skills; (d) maturation of personal ethical foundations; and (e) an appreciation of pluralism through working with others in the community. Potential improvements to the model were also uncovered through this process.

Author Biographies

Zia Saleh, Oxford University University of Alberta

B.Sc. University of Alberta

MD Candidate - University of Alberta

MPP Candidate - Oxford University

Vance Nakonechny, St. Mary School

B.Ed, M.Ed

Assistant Principal

Maurice St. Denis, R.F. Staples Secondary School


Counselor Teacher

Darren Nichols, University of Alberta

Darren Nichols, MD, CCFP(EM), FCFP


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