Students participate in the Shoebox Project!

This holiday season the YMCA Academy community came together to support woman impacted by homelessness by creating gift-filled shoeboxes. Students first learned about homelessness in Canada and then brainstormed what gifts women would want and need. Each advisory group decorated a shoebox, wrote a card with an inspiring message, and filled their box with thoughtful gifts to make a woman feel special.

The Shoebox Project for Women operates throughout Canada and the United States, delivering gift-filled shoeboxes to women in need. In Toronto the shoeboxes are distributed to women accessing a variety of services such as the YMCA Women’s Shelter, CAMH, Native Women’s Resource Centre, Covenant House etc. The aim of the project is to remind women that they have not been forgotten and that they are a valued and respected member of their community.

This project aligns with the YMCA’s core values and provided many benefits for our students including:

  • helping them to dissect the complex issues surrounding poverty and homelessness, particularly as they relate to women;
  • teaching them to challenge stigmas and stereotypes;
  • fostering empathy and understanding;
  • promoting community engagement and volunteerism.

It was great to hear students asking thoughtful questions about homelessness and to see them taking time to draw pictures and write kind words for their shoebox recipient. Through this project we have supported women in need, but also supported our students to be more engaged citizens.

We had so many generous gift donations that we were able to create an extra box (so 11 in total!) and make a donation of additional items to a shelter. So, thank you to everyone who helped make this project a success and we hope to make this an annual tradition.

Visiting the Toronto Humane Society

The YMCA Academy aims to develop programming based on students’ interests and needs. Among our students there are currently lots of animal lovers and many interested in pursuing animal related careers. This lead staff to plan a trip to the Toronto Humane Society so students could find out more about the possibilities that lie ahead.

All three Learning Strategies classes came together for this trip based on the curriculum link to career exploration. Students learned about how the Humane Society helps care for homeless animals and were led on a tour of the facility. They got to meet lots of adorable cats, dogs, and small pets and were excited to learn their names, take pictures and interact with them from the other side of the glass. Students also had a chance for some up close animal visits inside the education center where puppies were brought in to play.

The primary objective of the trip was for students to learn about animal related careers and how they might one day get to work with animals. We heard from two Humane Society employees, a dog trainer and the manager of shelter care, about their jobs and how they got where they are. They told us that to do their jobs it takes a love of animals, a lot of dedication, and strong people skills. One important take home point for the students was that related experience, for example volunteering or dog walking, is really valuable when trying to get an animal care job. This information points many students towards the next step in a pathway to their dream job.

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

Cooking Club Bake Sale!

This past December the Cooking Club ran its first Bake Sale and it was a great success! Students in the club, which is an after-school program aimed at learning valuable cooking skills and healthy eating, helped to plan and run this event. They prepared dry soup mixes for the sale (which were a big hit!) and made lots of goodies, including many batches of their special protein balls. The wider Academy community very generously donated everything from cookies, cupcakes and squares to homemade dog biscuits and holiday gifts. The fully stocked tables were set up outside the gym entrance and Academy students, YMCA staff and many hungry gym members came by to support our cause.

Students from Cooking Club signed up for shifts to help sell our products and explain our club and school philosophy of experiential learning. They were responsible for proper food handling and making change for customers.

We had set a goal of raising $1000, an amount which would cover the costs of running the Cooking Club for one whole school year. When all the money in our cash register had been counted we had almost $1200!! So, a big thank you to all those who supported this event! Stay tuned to the Academy’s Instagram account to see the healthy and delicious recipes that Cooking Club is able to continue to make.

Youth Exchange Silent Auction

Items on Sale during Silent Auction for the Youth Exchange Canada

Last week, with the help of parents, YMCA Health and Fitness staff, and student volunteers, the YMCA Academy held a silent auction to fundraise for the Canada Youth Exchange program. This year the tables were overflowing with generously donated items from family, friends and local businesses. From handmade scarves, pottery and artwork to concert and theatre tickets to a signed Raptors jersey and Toronto Maple Leafs tickets, there was something for everyone! With this one day auction we exceeded our fundraising goal and brought in over $2300 for this year’s exchange!

The Canada Youth Exchange 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. We are fortunate to have been twinned with a group from Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, who we will be hosting at the end of April. Thanks to all of our fundraising efforts and support from the community we are now able to go ahead with our wish list of activities and ensure that our guests have a truly amazing Toronto experience!

Thanks again to all those involved in the silent auction and stay tuned to find out exactly how the money is spent when we recap the exchange experience.

A Look at Families of Elements

On the 28th of November 2016, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) approved the name and symbols for the four new elements that had been previously discovered during the past few preceding years: nihonium (Nh), moscovium (Mc), tennessine (Ts), and oganesson (Og), respectively for element 113, 115, 117, and 118. The periodic table of element was first organized into its modern form by the Russian chemist Dimitri Mendeleev in 1863.

Mendeleev noticed that 56 known elements of his day displayed more than the simple pattern of increasing in atomic mass. He realized that groups of elements had similar physical and chemical properties that they shared with one another, despite having different atomic masses. He used his newly formed period table to correctly predict the properties of eight elements that had not yet been discovered!

Using their knowledge of the periodic table and understanding that elements in the same groups/families on the periodic table share similar physical and chemical properties, the grade 9 science class put their scientific investigation skills to observe four sets of chemical reactions to determine which solutions belonged to the same family on the periodic table.

Students reacted silver nitrate separately with potassium chloride, potassium iodide, potassium bromide and potassium sulfide. After reacting the solutions, student recorded their observations and applied their knowledge and understanding of the periodic table to figure out which of the potassium solutions (if any) were part of the same group/family.