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: https://owsa.ca/education-awareness/enabling-change/

Youth Exchange Canada: Toronto – Day Three

On Tuesday we went to Niagara Falls. As soon as we arrived, we got some free time to hang out on Clifton Hill. We all split up and went our own ways. Some of us went to an arcade, some watched a few small films, some went on a walk and some went to a haunted house.

Jake and Lindsey (students from The YMCA Academy) along with Kali (Student from the Living and Learning Center) went into the haunted house and this was their adventure:

Jake: “Someone get in front of me so I can film this!”
Kali: “Lindsey, get in front of us”
Lindsey (in a scared voice): “Kali come with me!”

They all heard scary noises and felt around them. Jake started freaking out because something touched his face and started running to finish the haunted house as fast as he could. Kali and Lindsey ran to catch up with Jake. Jake again saw something behind him and immediately fell to the ground!! They all ran out of the haunted house freaking out.- What an adventure!!!

We all regrouped to eat lunch with a great view of the falls and share our Clifton Hill’s Adventures. Then we started the slow walk down to the water’s edge, collecting a red plastic poncho on the way. Onto the “Hornblower” we went (used to be called The Maid of the Mist). With a commentary in the background and the spray of the falls in front, we quickly took pictures before the power of the falls turned us around for the return journey.

We had a few more minutes before getting back on the bus, so we spent our time walking up river and enjoying the views. Back on the bus we got and headed towards Toronto. We had a lovely dinner hosted by Ryan’s family at their recording studio, TA2. We had chicken, potatoes and rice and for people that are vegetarians they had salad. We also learned about the process of recording and putting together the layers of audio for a commercial. After we had dinner, some of us went to the movies and some went back to their homes or hostel. The people that went to the movies had a choice of three movies which were Logan, LIFE, and Kong Skull Island.

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

Youth Exchange Canada: Toronto – Day Two

On Monday, our group travelled to Casa Loma, taking in great views of the city as we climbed the hill and stairs to the castle. Our first adventure was walking through the 800 ft tunnel, through the “Toronto The Dark Side” exhibit to the stables and antique car exhibits. We then watched a film that took us through the history of Casa Loma and learned a lot about the time period in which it was built. After the film, we had free time to explore all of the rooms and grounds of the castle. The highlight for many of us was climbing up the winding staircases into the towers and enjoying more great views of Toronto.

After our visit to Casa Loma we had lunch in some green space nearby. All of the Academy students laid out the extra lunches they had made so that our guests could choose a meal they liked. We then ate in the beautiful sunshine and many students found ways to climb up trees and walls and monkey around.

When lunch was finished, we took the subway to High Park to show our guests the nature found right in our city. We had a nice walk through the park, stopping to rest by the cherry blossoms and view the animals in the zoo. We were happy to see the capybaras, Bonnie and Clyde, and their babies running around in their enclosure.

From High Park, we made our way back downtown and after we rested up and did a bit of shopping near the YMCA Academy, then we headed towards Fran’s Restaurant as our hunger grew anticipating the meal that awaited us. When we arrived at the diner, our excitement grew. As we chatted amongst ourselves our orders arrived. We had burgers and fries, fish and chips or chicken parmesan with spaghetti. The decor in Fran’s restaurant had the look and feel of the 1970s. The diner had seafoam coloured walls and seats along with booths and tables that were located in the front of the diner. The floors were tiled diagonally; the desserts were on display while the staff were wearing black uniforms. Jonathan says “I rate this restaurant environment and my meal 10/10”.

After we had dinner with our twins at the Fran’s diner we walk to Yonge and Dundas to show our guests the Eaton Centre. They went around going to find things that they didn’t have on the island such as make-up stores, EB games and more. We spend a lot of time there (and money). Afterwards we all went our separate ways home.

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

Youth Exchange Canada: Toronto – Day One

It was a bright and early Sunday morning, me (Heather), Benny and Spencer carpooled down to Clarence Park. As I hopped out of the car the first thing I had to do was meet each of the exchange students for I was so enthralled that they were finally here! We went on a TTC scavenger hunt. The plan was to conclude the TTC scavenger hunt at Chester Station, then from there we walked to Withrow Park. At the park we ate lunch and played some getting-to-know-you games. Ebin and his younger brother Aubrey were climbing trees. It was wicked to watch them climb, so second nature. We walked to an even bigger park called Riverdale and I and some of the exchange kids and YMCA kids rolled down the hill it was happy times. We waited at Riverdale for a recent graduate of the YMCA named Dakota and his brother Phoenix that is currently attending the school. We walked to Dakota and Phoenix’s house for a native ceremony to learn a little bit about the native rituals that originated from Toronto. All the Haida Gwaii kids gave a cedar rose to the drummers. It was a beautiful and tiring day but altogether one hundred percent worth, yawns.

We weren’t sure, beforehand, how many of our visitors were members of the Haida Nation, but we wanted to do our best to present them with a traditional native welcome. A good friend to the Academy, and parent of both a former and current student, Valentina, did not disappoint as she hosted a beautiful, spirited potluck at her home. She arranged a group of drummers and singers to perform several touching songs, each with a particular focus and meaning. The event took place in the courtyard of their housing complex and was so powerful it attracted surrounding neighbours and even stopped cars driving by. In a surprise twist, Pauline Shirt, an Elder of the Plains Cree who was leading the welcoming happened to know and have worked with an aunt of one of the youth visiting us. What a small world!

Our guests were very appreciative of the welcoming we gave them, but were also happy to return to their accommodations and rest up for what would be a long and exciting whirlwind week of activities. This day was the perfect start to such a week.

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