On Thursday July 19th, SBL’s Sam Tecle, had the chance to speak with Matt Galloway, host of CBC’s Metro Morning. He was invited to discuss Minister Michael Tibollo’s wearing of a bulletproof vest during a police ride-along in Jane and Finch. He brought up the bulletproof vest during question period which sparked a city-wide debate on racism and what we once called “priority” neighbourhoods. In addition to the interview, we wanted to interrogate what the wearing of a bulletproof vest in Jane and Finch means politically. In so many ways, the donning of the bullet proof vest and Minister Tibollo’s touting of that fact re-inscribes Jane and Finch as not only a no-go community, one in which the general public need avoid at all costs but it also continues to position Jane and Finch (and other similar communities) as those worthy of continued structured neglect and disinvestment. By structured neglect, we mean the cruel irony of the fact that in order for a community, an entire swath of people to be considered at-risk, marginalized or priority means that for generations they would had to have been structurally neglected and continually disinvested. There is no other glaring truth to this fact than the set of community housing by Firgrove that were deemed too far gone to even have been renewed or revitalized. In a city and province with dwindling social housing, that we are allowing the small number of housing we do have to decay to that degree is neglectful to say the least.
This year’s March Break Career Exploration Program focused on the increasingly technological nature of young people’s lives. More and more, growing up today means you are almost born with digital tech and grow up in a social media world. Hence, we wanted to focus on not only post-secondary trajectories, career exploration – as we do every year – but we also wanted to focus on young people, social media and digital technology. In doing that, we were able to really tap into the zeitgeist of the moment as it relates to young people who are, in so many ways, growing up in a whole new digitally interconnected world. The week focused on this new reality and made sure we instilled fun, education, technology and Hip Hop!
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.
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!
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 and the College Fair 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!
Thanks to the Youth Opportunities Fund we are able to better expose our youth to an array of supports that will develop greater post secondary aspirations through engaged programming.
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.