Youth Exchange Canada: Haida Gwaii – Day Two

On day 2 of the trip, The YMCA Academy students went on a boat ride to the west coast of the island. We went in the narrow waterways that leads to the the ocean for about an hour before hitting the open water. We saw a large ship which was the Coast Guard. We drove around in the open waters for a bit. We saw sea lions and got so close that we could smell them.

We landed on the beach at Ts’aahl Village for a picnic. As one of the crew cooked us a fresh salmon lunch, our guide showed us around the area, he also showed us really old totem poles. After lunch, our guide said “tide’s out, time to each” and he went scavenging in the ocean. He showed us what was edible and some of us tried a few sea creatures. After a couple hours on the beach we were off again on the boat and took a bit of a detour to show us the seals and puffins. We roamed around for a bit more before going back to the docks for dinner.

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

Blog written by: Jake and Josh

Youth Exchange Canada: Haida Gwaii – Day One

On the first day, we all went to the Haida heritage centre. Before it started, two Haida students led me to the back to see the beach. But we ended up walking down a crazy path and we climbed down slippery rocks. Afterwards we did a tour talking about totem poles. We learned about the poles of the different Haida clans. We also learned about the history of the Haida people during the time of European invasions. Afterwards, we went on a scavenger hunt of creatures on the beach during low tide. We found all kinds of stuff like crabs, squid eggs, sea cucumbers, etc.

After lunch, we went on a guided walk of the Spirit Lake trail led by a local forester. He taught us all about the trees and other vegetation on Haida Gwaii and the impact of the introduced species, such as the deer. We learned how to core a tree to determine its age and also won prizes for guessing the height of another tree. We got a little lost hiking around the lake, but everyone made it back in time to cook dinner over a fire on the beach.

In the evening we went to carve paddles and Jonathan also carved a miniature paddle. The paddles were started by the students at Living and Learning school. We helped by using some tools to carve the paddles and some of the students were distracted by eagles.

When the fishermen came into shore, they tossed the fish organs and eagles started scavenging the leftovers. As the eagles feasted on the organs, Josh stealthily got an arms length away from the eagles. Near the end of the trip, we were presented with one of the paddles we had worked on that night. An eagle was painted onto it due to the enthusiasm of some of the students.

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

Cedar Glen Trip

On Friday, June 2nd, our 4th period leadership class went on a day trip to the YMCA Cedar Glen Outdoor Centre which is located in Schomberg. We participated in two activities, high ropes course and mountain biking. We got there by taking the subway to Sheppard West and then took the Cedar Glen bus to the camp grounds. We had fun there and enjoyed our time.

The purpose of our trip was to improve our leadership skills and to enjoy some time outdoors. The high ropes helped us improve on our ability to trust our peers and also helped our physical and mental strength. Multiple students from the class have a fear of heights and the other students helped motivated them to conquer their fear.

The second activity that we did was mountain biking where we did a series of tasks to see how capable we were of controlling the bike. We had to use that knowledge to complete a series of obstacles. The first of many tasks we did was to learn how to brake properly and how to shift gears without damaging the chains on the bikes. One of the other tasks we did was a race to be as slow as possible without placing our feet on the ground in order to practice more control of the bike. On the way back we had to ride in single file, each person was 5 seconds apart, this was because we faced narrow roads, steep hills, a bridge, and rough terrain.

The day at Cedar Glen was full on fun activities. Everyone enjoyed the time we spent there. Some of the highlights for the students were; getting to spend time with each other in a different environment. The staff was very helpful in understanding what kinds of fun activities we would enjoy and even what kinds of food we would love to eat. Everyone enjoyed the lunch that Cedar Glen provided, Cedar Glen was able to make accommodations for people with different diets. Most of the school time we are together in a classroom environment. Cedar Glen gives us a chance to get to know each other in a different environment.

Here are some quotes that some of the students had about Cedar Glen:

“ Cedar Glen field trip was a great experience which also took stress off of school and stuff”- Bailey.

“ The staff at Cedar Glen were extremely helpful and friendly”- Nash

“ I love Cedar Glen very much and I can’t wait to go there on the school trip next year”- Archie.

“ I experienced fun activities such as the high ropes and mountain biking”- Allie.

In conclusion the trip was a very positive experience for all of the students in the class. We are very happy that we were able to go on the trip, we want to thank Cedar Glen for a wonderful experience. And we would also like to extend this thank you to Dayna for taking us to Cedar Glen.

Enabling Change

In the beginning of May the YMCA Academy participated in the program Enabling Change. Throughout the week students from 3 classes spent the day in wheelchairs to experience some of the challenges and barriers people in wheelchairs may experience within the school and the neighbourhood. At the end of the week Enabling Change came to the YMCA Academy and brought in some athletic wheelchairs. They gave us the opportunity to play wheelchair basketball with a professional wheelchair basketball player.

One of the ways OWSA (Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association) educates people on wheelchair athletics is through allowing people to participate in a game of wheelchair basketball. We learned that wheelchair basketball is a way for people in wheelchairs to continue to live an active healthy lifestyle. Students at the Academy were very excited to have the chance to participate in this activity and learned a lot about the sport.

Enabling Change is a program within the OWSA. It is an organization that aims to educate students about; invisible and visible disabilities, proper vocabulary when talking about disabilities, understanding the barriers faced by wheelchair users, inclusiveness and respect. The YMCA Academy decided to participate in this program to see how accessible our school is, and to see if any improvements need to be made to make our school to be more accessible.

These are the few things that some of the YMCA students had to say about the activity:

“I now realize some of the difficulties people in wheelchairs face because maybe their favorite place isn’t accessible, and how we should make those places accessible” – Archie Grant

“ The moment I sat in the wheelchair I didn’t even know how to turn, it was a really hard and time consuming thing to learn but eventually I got the hang of it. I now see how people in wheelchairs feel”- Mahadir Khan

“This activity showed me more about the daily life of a wheelchair user and showed me the struggles of it and the benefits” – James

“This program is a good way of recognizing some barriers within our school and community that you would never have thought about, as well as strategies to make our community more accessible to everyone.” – Jonah

Overall this opportunity was a very positive experience and left the students with a better understanding of the daily life of someone in a wheelchair. Enabling Change helped give us a new insight into how accessible our school and community is. The students at the school found a new perspective towards wheelchairs and realized how accessibility is important not only in school but all over our community.

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

For more Information:

Introducing: Meatless Mondays!

YMCA Academy students participate in the "Meatless Mondays' program
On Monday, March 24th, Lunch Duty Supervisors, Katie and Rein, along with help from Rein’s Food and Nutrition Class kicked off our weekly participation in Meatless Mondays.

The idea of Meatless Mondays is to commit to eating meat free, one day a week, in order to improve our health, the environment and consider animal welfare. The Food and Nutrition class visited all Period 3 classes, presented the concept, and encouraged their participation at the school by bringing in, or buying, a meat-free lunch every Monday.

With roughly half the school population participating, we expect that this movement can be sustained long term, with the hopes of eventually having the whole student body participate. Every Monday, I find myself greeted by excited students, eager to show off their meatless meals.

Katie and I will be tracking participation, and collecting recipes from students to share with everyone interested in joining the movement.