2017 Valentine’s Dance!

The YMCA Academy Leadership and Peer Support class hosted a Valentine’s Day dance on February 14th, 2017. The tickets were sold at the price of $5 during lunch from Thursday, Friday, Monday, Tuesday, and also at the dance (if you were last minute). Our Leadership and Peer Support class worked to plan and setup the dance for about a week and half. Students requested many songs to be played at the dance and our very own DJ B tried his best to get each student’s request to be played in one long list.

At the Valentine’s Day dance students had fun by dancing, hanging out with friends, eating nice treats made by our very own Cooking Club runned by Katie Clay. All the money that was raised by the Leadership and Peer Support class will be going to the YMCA Youth Exchange Program. The amount raised was a whopping $172.95. All in all the dance was a successful night and everyone in the dance seemed to enjoy their stay. For people that think this might be the last dance. Think not. There will be more dances to be hosted in the near future!

Thank you to Central YMCA for letting us book the auditorium!

Written by: Mahadir & Bailey

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

Skating Trip at Nathan Phillips Square

On Friday February the 10th the YMCA Academy embarked on its yearly walk to Nathan Phillips Square in order to partake in our annual skating trip. With skates and helmets secure, the students hit the ice. Skaters of all experience levels enjoyed gliding on the ice. This year’s major difference from years past was the amount of snow that fell throughout the entire event.

As always, after a fair amount of skating was done both staff and students enjoyed their traditional consumption hot chocolate and Timbits from Tim Hortons. This yearly experience, now in its sixth year, affords staff and students to enjoy an afternoon of fun for both skaters and non skaters. We can’t wait to see what next year’s trip will be like.

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

Tokens 4 Change: Youth Helping Youth

Once again YMCA Academy students participated in Tokens 4 Change, an annual event which raises funds for Youth Without Shelter, a youth shelter in Etobicoke that gives a home to 1,000 homeless youth a year.

In January, the entire school participated in a workshop led by Youth Without Shelter, that opened their eyes to the reality of youth homelessness. They learned about the diverse reasons that youth find themselves without a home. Many were surprised to realize that you cannot tell if someone is homeless from their appearance. This workshop had a lasting impact on students and inspired many of them to sign up for Tokens 4 Change.

On Friday, February 3rd, 10 Academy students canvassed at St. Andrew’s station, covering the busy 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. shift. They were loud, energetic and creative in their messaging, encouraging commuters to reach into their pockets and make change for Toronto’s homeless youth. Thanks to their help St. Andrew’s was the second high producing station this year. This one day event raised almost $100,000 which will go directly to supporting youth transit costs and fund essential, empowering programs at Youth Without Shelter.

Dungeons and Dragons Club

Video games may have become the norm for most high school students looking for the thrill of solving puzzles, navigating political intrigue, and combating evil monsters. At my school, however, we sit around a table with pencils, paper and dice. The classic fantasy strategy game, Dungeons and Dragons, has made a major come back at the YMCA Academy. Instead of being powered by a computer or gaming console, Dungeons and Dragons games unfold in the minds of a group of people through shared story telling. Rather than quietly staring a screen and clicking buttons on a controller, the YMCA Academy Dungeons and Dragons Club members cooperatively scour maps, lay out plans, brainstorm solutions, and tackle enemies all through the power of imagination.

This week the companions trekked across dangerous, forested wilderness on their way to gather some key information at an abandoned town a few days’ march to the north. The party is tracking their missing Dwarven employer who was captured by a band of goblins. Their investigation has taken them from a sleepy mining town, through damp caverns, through wild forests and to an abandoned ruin of a village where a dragon has made his lair.

The world of Dungeons and Dragons is only possible through the power of shared story telling. As the Dungeon Master, I set the scene by narrating the opening sequence of a story: I describe the scenery, the time of day, what local people or creatures are nearby, and I explain any activity that is taking place. Players then make decisions based on their character and what is taking place. The outcomes of those decisions are determined by the roll of dice. Then I describe the outcome based on the dice roll, and the cycle starts over again.

I can’t express enough the value of this game. Besides the literacy, numeracy, problem solving, divergent thinking, communication, conflict resolution, and geography skills that are practiced, the social benefits of the game cannot be ignored. Every Monday, a group of students, who range from boisterous to downright shy, join together as a close-knit team to overcome a series of new challenges. Players come out of their shells and take on newfound confidence in leadership roles, they learn to encourage and uplift one another, they learn to listen to one another, they learn to recognize the power of choice, they learn to laugh at mistakes (and bad dice rolls), and they learn celebrate one another’s victories.

The Cookbooks are Ready for Sale!

The YMCA Academy cookbooks have been printed, packaged and are ready for sale! The idea of the cookbook came from the Cooking Club which meets each week to create delicious and nutritious foods. The club has gathered their favourite recipes and compiled them with recipes submitted by students, staff and friends of the Academy. All together there are 115 recipes spiral-bound together with a custom cover of Cooking Club photos.

These cookbooks make wonderful holiday gifts and are a great way to support the Academy. The books cost $20 for one or two for $30 and all of the proceeds will go to programs that benefit our students, such as Cooking club and the YMCA Youth Exchange. If you would like to place an order, please e-mail Katie Clay at kclay@ymcaacademy.org.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this project and to those who have purchased cookbooks. Your ongoing support of the Academy is so appreciated!

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