An experiential approach is crucial to the success of our learning community. From hands-on lessons in class to activities delivered in situ across the city, YMCA Academy students receive authentic opportunities to broaden and demonstrate their learning.

These in-class activities are supported by a unique suite of engaging experiences, all linked to the school’s course content. These include the school’s popular cooperative education program, health and fitness and outdoor education opportunities through the YMCA of Greater Toronto, and environmental stewardship initiatives that utilize a broad range of community partnerships.

Cooperative Education (High School)

YMCA Academy student at a cooperative education placement at a bike shopYMCA Academy students are eligible to participate in the school’s Cooperative Education program.

Cooperative Education is a planned learning experience for which credits are earned. It integrates classroom theory and learning experiences in a community placement, enabling students to apply, expand, and refine the knowledge and skills acquired in a related curriculum course.

Courses successfully completed or taken concurrently can be linked to Cooperative Education, whereby the students can earn up to two additional credits in a subject. The knowledge and skills of the in-school course are applied in a practical work environment. These experiences assist students in preparing for future careers and making successful transitions to post-secondary education, apprenticeship programs, or to the workplace.

Cooperative Education experiences include:

  • a personalized placement learning plan (PPLP), developed by the Cooperative Education teacher and based on course curriculum expectations
  • pre-placement instruction and orientation (including instruction on topics such as interviews, resumes, health and safety, and legal and harassment issues) to prepare students for the new experience
  • provision for workplace and liability insurance coverage, through the YMCA of Greater Toronto
  • regular monitoring at the co-op placement by the Cooperative Education teacher (two direct visits and one indirect assessment per credit)
  • integration of classroom and workplace learning, which provides opportunities for students to connect prior classroom learning to the skills aquired in their co-op placement
Number of Co-op Credits Pre-Placement Integration Placement Total Hours
1-credit (related to 1 in-school course 25-30 hours 7 hours 73-78 hours 110 hours
2-credits (related to 1 in-school course) 25-30 hours 14 hours 176-181 hours 220 hours
3- credits (related to 2 in-school courses) 25-30 hours 21 hours 279-284 hours 330 hours
4 credits (related to 2 in-school courses) 25-30 hours 28 hours 382-387 hours 440 hours
Health and Fitness

Gymnasium at Toronto Central Grosvenor Street YMCA Centre of CommunityA YMCA of Greater Toronto membership is included in tuition. The Academy is located within the Toronto Central Grosvenor Street YMCA Centre, a centre of community featuring a wide array of health and fitness programs and facilities.

Physical education courses at The YMCA Academy utilize these state-of-the-art facilities. In addition, all health and fitness facilities are accessible to Academy students through the calendar year (including over holiday breaks in school). Students are encouraged to take advantage of the building's many onsite health and fitness opportunities:

  • Full size (six-lane, 25-metre) pool with lane swimming and lessons
  • Training pool with hydraulic lift floor
  • Two full-size gymnasiums
  • Two squash/racquetball courts
  • Conditioning rooms (including free weights, Cybex and Keiser strength training equipment, cross trainers, treadmills, rowers, bikes, and stretching areas)
  • Cyclefit studio
  • Drop-in sport programs (including basketball, floor hockey, volleyball, badminton, table tennis, and soccer)
  • Yoga and Pilates classes
  • More than 100 group fitness classes (including Aquafit, MuscleFit, Bars & Plates, BodyFit, Step, Barre, and Bootcamp)
  • Personal training
  • Locker room and sauna
  • Café
Outdoor Education

YMCA Academy students use atlatls at YMCA Cedar Glen Outdoor CentreAt the start of every school year, Academy students and staff participate in leadership and teambuilding activities at an overnight excursion to a YMCA outdoor education facility (YMCA Cedar Glen Outdoor Centre or YMCA Camp Pine Crest).

Accommodations, meals, transport and all activities are included in Academy tuition.

Intentionally placed at the start of the year, this program is enormously beneficial to individual students and the learning community as a whole. The goals of the program are to:

  • Promote personal growth and development
  • Promote social integration for new students
  • Build healthy team dynamics
  • Promote leadership and teamwork
  • Give students an opportunity to interact with nature

Activities at past excursions have included:

  • Archery
  • Mountain biking
  • High ropes courses
  • Low ropes courses
  • Rock climbing
  • Wilderness survival activities
Environmental Stewardship

YMCA Academy students planting trees at Evergreen Downsview ParkThe entire YMCA Academy learning community is committed to environmental stewardship.

From cross-curricular lessons and activities that demonstrate the impact of sustainability to full-school tree-planting excursions, Academy students are provided with many opportunities to deepen their understanding of how their actions and choices can make a positive difference for the Earth — and then apply this knowledge to their classroom learning.

Recent stewardship activities have included:

  • Earth Day neighbourhood greening initiatives
  • Sustainable cooking classes, in conjunction with The Stop Community Food Centre’s Shovel & Spoon program
  • Tree planting projects at Downsview Park and the Brick Works, in conjunction with Evergreen
  • Participation in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup
  • Planting and landscaping outdoor childcare spaces at the Toronto Central Grosvenor Street YMCA Centre