The Toronto Maple Leafs are celebrating 100 years and have invited youth from across the city to join them in this celebration. Thanks to Kids Up Front, an organization that is dedicated in getting kids in seats for any sporting game happening in the city, we had the pleasure of being invited. 15 of us listened in on some of the notable comments made about the 100 years; we ate a spectacular meal and of course got to watch a mid day game at the Air Canada Centre. We are excited to always partner with Kids Up Front and look forward to more opportunities for youth from our community of Toronto.
In the final year of high school, there is some youth that may have decided what route they would like to take after high school and then there is still a group of students that are undecided, unsure if they would like to go to college or university. Therefore, SBL has decided to take a group of students to both the University Fair (September 28) and the College Fair (October 25) to give youth the opportunity to learn more about the different universities and colleges that exist in Ontario, to speak to different representatives about programs that they might be interested in or just to have the opportunity to decide if university or college would be the best fit for them in September 2018. Our youth were definitely excited for this opportunity to visit these respective fairs and we will be taking another set of youth next year!
The time has come for great films, fun moments and of course a chance to rub shoulders with celebrities. In partnership with tiff we are always excited to expose our youth to a world of film each and every September. This opportunity has allowed for some young people to think about film in a different way. Meaning a way that feels more attainable rather than thinking of film as only blockbuster screenplays that make it to Cineplex. Film can be a chance to tell our stories and share it with the community or the world through festivals such as this one. Please check out the tiff website for a complete list and just know that we hope to have some young SBL people on that list soon!
Today was a day of remembrance, celebration, and self care. Westview and the larger community started the day in the cafeteria; explored different spaces in Westview for the afternoon and ended the day back to where we started with a tribute to those we have lost in this difficult year. During the break out sessions, we collaborated with Game Changers who are experts in facilitating conflict mediation sessions for youth. We wanted to build community health by focusing on every day issues and how it can be managed through positive conflict mediation techniques. The day was a success and it showed true community strength towards a common purpose.
Each year before the holiday break, SBL has its annual End of the Year Celebration/Party to not only close off the school year, but to also celebrate the achievements of our youth. This is a time where we give thanks and recognize our volunteers and mentors that go the extra mile in our after-school program. We always kick off the celebration, with a slideshow recapping the year from September to the present to remind us of what we have done so far! The assembly also provided an outlet to showcase the accomplishments and skills that are gained during the after-school program such as having our youth dance facilitator/volunteer Daisphia Francis performing a dance routine with one of our mentees Sherisa Baker. After our assembly, we come back to the SBL space for games, music, and food!
SBL’s collaborative leadership team approach was recently recognized at the prestigious Bhayana Family Foundation Awards ceremony. Last month, Kaneka, Mohamed and Tesfai, received the Learning and Leading Collaborative Leadership Team Award at a luncheon ceremony held by the United Way to acknowledge the work of a wide variety of leading social agencies and their staffs. We are extremely honoured to be recipients of this team award. Many of the work we’ve done in the Jane-Finch community of Toronto comes directly from the hard work and love staff put in. The ceremony has been a reminder for organizations such as ours that it is important be and feel recognized for the hard work we put in. Being witness to the other United Way supported agencies, during the ceremony, was an overwhelming feeling of excitement. We are thankful for being selected among many other groups that make a difference in their communities every day. We are thankful for United Way recognizing how important team work can be towards strengthening our communities. This love for the work we do day in and day out cannot be delivered without support from families and partners.
At SBL, we really do emphasize and promote healthy living to our youth whether it be by serving healthy snacks, having access to water and fruits daily or through our programming after-school. Once a week, we have access to Westview’s weight room and have former SBL participant Kevin Ofori that is currently studying Personal Fitness to lead our weekly sessions. Each session starts off where everyone gets the chance to warm-up and then have the opportunity to learn more about an equipment and its purpose. Our youth are excited and happy to work out when they got the opportunity to learn first-hand of what each machine is used for and for which part of the body! It is recommended that youth get 60 minutes of physical activity per day and our weight room programming definitely helps with that!
Project Turn Around is a holistic, culturally appropriate and responsive community-based prevention and intervention program serving youth ages 12-20, and their families. This week during the after school program, we had them come in and facilitate a workshop on understanding diversity with our youth. Everyday we interact with people from various backgrounds and experiences that we may not be familiar with. It’s important to recognize those around us and how we can share our experiences to better understand one another. The workshop looked at popular culture and how at times we poke fun at individuals with certain backgrounds; how does this translate to our everyday interactions and ways of learning was important for us to unpack.
What’s new in this years report? Our partnership with the MLSE LaunchPad; a new group of career experts who took time out of their day to engage with our youth; access to new spaces around the city; and most of all, our new group of youth.
This report highlights our successes and achievements during that week. Don’t forget to watch our recap video which can be found on our YouTube channel.