Ending Homelessness – One Youth At a Time

 

Students and staff from the YMCA Academy once again braved the cold to help support Youth Without Shelter.

On Friday, February 1st, 25 students and staff participated in the 9th annual Time4Change (formerly Tokens4Change) fundraising event. The money raised goes to providing youth access to transit and empowering support programs at Youth Without Shelter, an emergency residence and referral agency in Etobicoke. Transit fare allows youth to attend school, seek a safe place to call home, find employment and new beginnings.

In January, the entire school participated in a workshop led by Youth Without Shelter, that educated students on the important programs they provide and why it is such a need in Toronto.This led many students to sign up and through the event gain deeper understanding through learning. Our students had the opportunity to teach commuters about the issue of homelessness and be engaged in powerful discussions. One youth was approached by a woman currently living in shelter who thanked them for their efforts. Another person commended us as they had volunteered at this event before and knew how challenging it is. Some passersby were impressed with our chants and enthusiasm, while others donated so that we would be quiet! Either way we were able to educate the public and bring in lots of donations, big and small, which helped make the event a success.

This year’s Time4Change event saw almost 600 volunteers canvassing at 27 locations. The grand total raised in just one day was $88,000!

Thank you to everyone who participated and donated to this great cause!

Fresh & Fiery Academy Hot Sauce!

It came time to harvest produce from our school garden!! Our Grade 7/8 class came up with ideas about what we could make with all of our produce. We had onions, tomatoes, and LOTS of different types of hot and sweet peppers. We decided that we would make HOT SAUCE!

Together we harvested everything from the garden. We looked up a variety of different hot sauce recipes and decided to combine a few to make our very own special Academy hot sauce. Next, we put on safety goggles and gloves to protect ourselves from the super hot peppers. Carefully we cut up all of our produce and simmered them down for several hours. Once it was ready, we allowed it to cool down, and blended it smooth. Then we were left with a large pot of hot sauce…

We knew that we wanted to jar the sauce, but we had no idea how much hot sauce we had! Luckily we figured out that if we figured out the volume of the pot, we could figure out how much hot sauce we had. So that is exactly what we did! First we all estimated how many cups of hot sauce we predicted was in pot. Then we calculated the volume. We then researched what jars we wanted to use and how many milliliters they held.We divided the volume of the sauce by the size of the jar. We calculated how many packages of jars we would need to purchase, how much they would cost and how much tax would be added. Then we used Google Maps to map our route and see how much time it would take us to get to the store to purchase our jars.

Once the jars were purchased and filled, the next step was to choose a name and design a label. Students worked together to come up with ideas, vote and eventually decided on Fresh and Fiery. The class also decided to sell the hot sauce for $7 each or 2 for $12 and all profits will go back to the garden fund.

This was a really nice project to start the year with as this project required a significant amount of collaboration and we were just getting to know each other and the school community.

This was a fun activity that had many curriculum connections. These connections were:

  • Math: Measurement and Volume
  • English: Blogs, read and writing the instructions
  • Science: PH levels
  • Business: Marketing, Brand management and Advertising

5km Bold and Cold Run!

On Saturday, November 24th, the YMCA Academy participated in the annual 5k Bold and Cold run organized by Team Unbreakable. Many students from the YMCA Academy showed up to either participate in the run, help out with the organization or show support for their peers. The 3 degree Saturday morning was the perfect weather for the 5K run the students had been training towards for the past months. Two of the Academy’s gym classes had been training for two months leading up to the run. As people arrived excited to run, it was some of their first times participating in a run and some were experienced runners but all were waiting and excited to begin. The energy in the crowd of people who had assembled to participate was extremely positive with encouragement throughout the group and eagerness to run.

Each student had their own personal goal that they had been working towards. Javier, a student who had never participated in a run before, said his goal was simply finishing. “I didn’t want to do it”, he said about leading up to the race, but “the support of the teachers” is what made him participate in the run. Seth, a student who is an experienced runner had a goal of finishing in under 25 minutes. He ended up finishing in 21 minutes and 40 seconds! “I felt accomplished,” said Seth about how he felt finishing the run, adding that “Nils came in every Wednesday to help us train for the run so that was very helpful”. The Academy had partnered with Team Unbreakable leading up to the run and Nils, a representative of Team Unbreakable, came in every week to help the Academy gym class students train for race through interval training. He helped each student achieve their personal goal.

The run had the students excited about participating in physical activity and helped educate them about mental health. “The run was a great experience” said one of the students, “and I hope to participate in the next one in spring”.

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

Written by: Jonah M.

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!

Academy partners with Digital Literacy + Coding pilot!

The YMCA Academy has always leveraged computer technology in the service of student learning. Laptop-based assistive technologies are at the heart of the supports we provide to a wide range of learning styles. Thus, when we had an opportunity to partner with the Brookfield Institute in their “Digital Literacy + Coding” pilot project“, we jumped at the chance.

The Academy has committed to running eight 12-week sessions to introduce youth in the GTA to the logic and practice of coding. We see this pilot as providing our students with additional expertise and knowledge that will be hugely important in the job markets they will face when they graduate. These sessions are free of charge, and laptops are provided.

By introducing Digital Literacy + Coding to a wide variety of youth, including youth who are underrepresented in this growing field, The Academy hopes to help shape the future.

The program will introduce youth to a variety of activities leading to a final project that each participant has chosen. They will be “remixing” websites, games, and other web-based applications to get a better understanding of how they work, and how elements of the code affect the final product.

The Digital Literacy + Coding pilot will focus on several languages, particularly HTML, CSS, and a brief introduction to JavaScript. These are the languages that are the backbone to complex and engaging web pages. This program is an excellent way to help youth begin the journey of sparking passion for STEM-related fields by learning the basics of the coding languages of the web.