Upcoming Youth Exchange to New Brunswick

The above slideshow is from our last Youth Exchange to Haida Gwaii in 2017

Students at the YMCA Academy are preparing for the upcoming Youth Exchange that will be taking place from April 13th to 19th, and the 18th to the 24th of May.

In this youth exchange people from Tobique First Nations, New Brunswick will be coming for six days to Toronto to learn and experience a different sort of culture from their own. They will be guided around the city by the YMCA Academy’s students who will be later going to where they’re from just a month from now.

While they’re here we will be welcoming them with a feast, doing a city wide scavenger hunt on the TTC, doing volunteer work, taking them to Center Island and Niagara Falls, and just exploring the general city areas.

The goal of this Youth Exchange is to learn how other communities across Canada live and work in different ways, and the differences or similarities of two completely different environments, city and somewhat rural land. Some great outcomes of this experience include the new knowledge students gain about how the world works, and important life skills like knowing how to travel, how to interact with new people, and people who live in a different environment.

To find out more about this exchange look out for photos, blog posts, and posts on our social media pages!

Academy Rowing Crew’s 24-hour Row

The Sweat for Good Challenge!

It’s just 3 days until the Academy Rowing Crew’s 24-hour row!

We’ll be rowing from 8am on Friday, March 1st through to 8am on Saturday, March 2nd.  This is truly an Academy community event.  We currently have over 65 students, staff, alumni, families, volunteers and friends signed up to participate with our team!

Adding to the team effort this year, Colleen, one of the Academy’s teachers, will be attempting to set a new world distance record for a 24-hour row.

The Sweat for Good Challenge (formerly known as Megathon) is an important part of our school’s annual initiative to promote the connection between mental wellness and physical activity. The focus is to raise our students’ awareness about the role physical activity plays in mental health. Being active reduces the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression — issues that impact many young people.

Last year, we raised over $2,500 and our goal is to surpass that number this year.

All fundraising from this event goes towards making YMCA programs financially accessible to everyone. Students at the Academy benefit directly from these funds.

Check out our Sweat for Good Challenge page – Donations can be made here!

If you wish to participate and haven’t signed up already, there’s still time to join our crew – contact Katie Clay

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!

YMCA Academy Community Garden

The YMCA Academy is located right in the heart of the downtown core, however we do our best to stay as connected to the environment as possible. We have a green wall, plants all around the school and even a vermicompost! One of the highlights of our annual YMCA Cedar Glen trip is the time we spend on the farm, planting, harvesting and caring for the grounds. It is so nice to see the students getting their hands dirty, being outside away from technology, and finding relaxation in this work. For all of these reasons we decided to build our very own urban garden on one of the terraces connected to our school!

Step 1: Design
Our Green Industries class designed sub-irrigated planter boxes. With the location of the terrace, distance of a water source and direct sunlight, it was important that the planter boxes were designed with these limitations in mind.

Step 2: Create
Students in our Gardening Club, and Green Industries class worked together to build and assemble the bins. Building these bins required students to have a strong grasp of the design, collaborate with each other and follow the design instructions.

Step 3: Prepare
Our Personal Fitness class spent the morning hauling heavy soil and materials to the terrace garden. Each of the bins required several bags of soil so the team had lots to carry! Students were instructed on proper carrying techniques to avoid injury.

Step 4: Plant
Every student in the school was assigned one plant to bring in for the garden. Once they were all brought in our Green Industries class organized and planted them. Students brought in an excellent variety of herbs, vegetables, fruit, and flowers that attract bees and butterflies.

Step 5: Care for
As a community of staff, students and volunteers we all play a role in caring for our garden. Depending on the weather, the gardens are watered once a week and checked on each day for changes, needs and the opportunity to harvest.

Step 6: Harvest
The fresh vegetables in the garden were harvested by students daily, many vegetables and herbs such as cherry tomatoes, chives, and green were harvested for lunch time snacks and cooking club. The majority of hot peppers were harvested by the students in the 7 / 8 program and made into hot sauce!

It has been incredible to see the impact the garden has had on our school community since the garden has been built and begins to grow. Many students and staff have expressed how much they love getting the opportunity to spend time outside and around the plants. Many of us are over the moon when something begins to grow, fruit, or is ready for harvest. One of our students in particular has expressed that a quick visit to the garden helps to settle him, reduce stress and anxiety and gets him ready to focus in class.

Overall the garden has been a great success and we are looking forward to expanding our garden even more next season!

Take a look at our Hot Sauce blog to see what we did with this years harvest and check out the rest the rest of the pictures on our Facebook page!

Community Garden: Design, Create, Prepare | Community Garden: Plant, Care, Harvest

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.