The Youth Exchange Canada program is a Government of Canada initiative that helps Canadian youth connect with one another, experience the diversity of Canada’s communities, languages and cultures, and get involved in the future of the country. Groups from across the country are paired according to the age and interest of their members. After several weeks of planning, research, fundraising and anticipation, matched participants exchange with their partner from another part of Canada.
We would like to extend our appreciation and gratefulness to everyone who helped make this experience the amazing adventure it turned out to be while we where on our trip, and the amazing experience it’s going to be when it’s our turn to host. From the Youth Exchange Canada program to our staff, students, families and the YMCA community at large who helped out with our silent auction fundraiser, everyone played an important role in making this experience the success that it was.
Day one of the Youth Exchanges Canada Program! We met our exchange group in the early afternoon who travelled from Winnipeg, Manitoba to join us for a week here in Toronto. After some introductory games and a short walk around Toronto we head over to a student hosted dinner to enjoy some great food.
On day 2 of the Youth Exchanges Canada students at the YMCA Academy planned a TTC scavenger hunt for our twins, who spent an hour exploring and learning the public transit system in Toronto. Congratulations to group three for finding the most landmarks! After having lunch down at the waterfront, we visited Ripley’s Aquarium for some deep-sea adventures and proceeded back to the school for dinner after a long day!
On day 3 of the Youth Exchanges Canada students from the YMCA Academy and our twins from Winnipeg participated in a Tour Guys Walking Tour, where we explored Downtown Toronto, the Financial District, and the Eaton’s Centre – Learning many interesting facts along the way! After touring around for a few hours we headed back to the YMCA Academy for lunch and to participate in gymnasium activities planned by the Recreational Fitness and Leadership class. We finished off the day by having dinner and then a well-deserved sleep after a day packed with physical activity.
On Day 4 of the Youth Exchanges Canada, students from the YMCA Academy and our twins from Winnipeg participated in a special workshop hosted by the Professional Engineers of Ontario. Students were tasked with creating the “fastest” handmade car carved from balsam wood; a large track with sensors was used to measure the speed of each model car. Afterwards, we settled in for a late lunch while screening a Hot Docs documentary in our common area. After the documentary, students had a chance to relax and prepare for the Blue Jays game later that evening! We finished the night off with a great evening as the Jay’s beat the New York Yankees.
Day 5 of the Youth Exchanges Canada saw our entire school, along with our twin group visit High Park in order to fulfill our environmental stewardship commitment. Students spent the afternoon under a sun-filled blue sky cleaning up sections of High Park. During the lunch break, students enjoyed throwing footballs and Frisbees around to pass the time, and then continued with the clean-up. The last part of our stay at High Park had us walking through the park’s little zoo, enjoying both the animals and the Cherry Blossoms. The evening portion of the day was spent at a host family’s house where the Youth Exchange group ate a delicious dinner prepared by the host, and had a chance to mingle afterwards.
Day 6 of the Youth Exchanges Canada students from the YMCA Academy and our twin group from Winnipeg visited the CN tower. We spent the morning viewing the Toronto skyline and testing our boldness on the glass floor. In the afternoon we proceeded on a student-led tour through the University of Toronto and Kensington market. Students from Todd’s Civics class spoke about several issues including gentrification, walkability, and street art.