By Priya Saha
CultureLink hosted its first ever Outdoors Volunteer Fair on Tuesday July 12, 2016 at their program center to assist youth looking for volunteer opportunities to help make Toronto a greener city. The fair was organized by Barbora Gomezova and Lynda Young, SWIS Worker and Youth Program Worker aiming to make youth aware of the positive impacts they can make on the environment by helping to create a more sustainable future for the planet.
Organizations such as Earth Day Canada, The Stop, Not Far From the Tree, SPARK Ontario, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) and West Neighbourhood House all set up booths representing their specific missions with opportunities to get involved.
All of the organizations that participated offered a variety of ways they strive to create positive change for our Earth encouraging volunteers to support an environmental cause that they can relate to.
The fair provided a strong platform to youth and young adults to become associated with various environmental organizations and build their network allowing them to express their passion for environmentally sustainable living.
On the afternoon of Tuesday June the 28, 2016, four placement students from George Brown College and Seneca College transformed CultureLink’s program rooms into a Hawaiian paradise. Complete with food, music, singing, professional make-up artists and dancing, 50 seniors from 5 countries, and 14 youth had the opportunity to celebrate seniors’ month in style. It was a wonderful event to recognize seniors who most often don’t get the appreciation and recognition they need.
Today, we showed that our programs aren’t “seniors’ programs” or “youth programs” rather community programs. A strong community is one that supports its members to not be socially isolated, one that bridges the generation gap between seniors and youth, and one that recognizes and celebrates all of its assets. We would like to say a special thank you to: Ornela Kesemi, Patricia Almendro and Ana Tomohiro of Seneca College and Amenah Abusara of George Brown College.
Ryerson Community School is located on Denison Avenue in the heart of Toronto’s Chinatown, and on the south side of Kensington Market, in the former City of Toronto. In partnership with Culturelink Settlment Workers in Schools Program (SWIS) since the program start in 2000, we have a long collaborative history and stable partnership in providing a good quantity and quality settlement service for newcomer students and their families. The Newcomer Orientation & Homework Club provided a lot of opportunities for social integration, friendship, homework help and conversation to improve language skills.
Monday Family Fun events were a great success ! About 100 people participated and in those 4 sessions they learned how to do Tai Chi and Zumba. Parents and children had fun being active together!
Visek Day is a Buddhist celebration honouring the birthday of Budha and celebrated world-wide. It focuses on the tenants of Buddhism including compassion, peace and goodwill. Celebrations include cultural performances, plays and public messages given by religious and community leaders. Some celebrations include doing acts of charity such as donating to the poor or releasing caged animals.
May 27th, the students of John English Public School celebrated Visek Day. The school hosted a beautiful celebration for newcomer children who dressed in cultural attire and shared a pot-luck meal. To commemorate Visek Day, a peace tree was planted by the students in the school’s inner garden. The peace tree was then decorated by the children to foster compassion and peace. This years’ tree was the 10th annual peace tree planted at the school, and each tree is dedicated to a staff person of the school to keep them close in memory. It was also in this garden that the ESL teacher’s rabbit ran freely, symbolizing freedom and compassion for animals.
West Hill Bike Club
With the support of the Toronto Foundation, CultureLink launched the West Hill Bike Club as an after-school program at West Hill Collegiate Institute in fall 2015. Chantelle Campbell-Sholzberg was hired to support the club and Clayton Reesor, who biked to school regularly, was appointed to be one of two “Student Ambassadors”. Check out Clayton’s story!
“It was not long before we started exploring the cool trails around us on awesome bikes that were provided for free! Winter approached, and attendance fell slightly, but with spring’s arrival, it shot back up again. We went on many fun rides around the area on local trails that stretched down to Lake Ontario, a local community centre, and even to the Toronto Zoo! I am still amazed at the length and accessibility of these trails. We visited the nearby East Scarborough Storefront, a skateboard park in Malvern, and last but not least, attended the York Youth Bike Summit. This Summit was hosted at the Markham Pan Am Centre, and included kids from different schools around the GTA. Many topics were discussed, like bike safety, various cycling benefits, and we even got to hear an Olympic triathlete share her story. We as a club also had the opportunity to speak, sharing tips and advice on the topic of starting a bike club in a school.
I loved the rides we did, especially along the scenic trails that lead to Lake Ontario. It has taught me cycling rules and skills that I can carry with me into the future, and has greatly increased my confidence as a cyclist, especially with riding on busy local roads.
I hope that this club will continue next year, and I plan to come and visit if it does. A huge thanks goes out to the members, the teachers who gave their time, and last but not least, Chantelle for her amazing time and work with this club.”