Welcome to the St. Alban’s Blog

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staffOur staff team is committing to writing and posting articles that we hope will be of interest to parents, community members and people who use our services. We are a group of people who are incredibly dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, youth and families in the City of Toronto. We have a wealth of information and ideas to share and we realized that our newsletters and emails home are not always the best place to tackle the “bigger” topics, or to relay news that doesn’t necessarily fall into the category of “program updates.” The blog will be a central place for us to share some of the things that we have learned along the way about a wide variety of topics, including:

  • Bullying
  • Fun games, crafts and activities that you can do with your kids at home
  • Safety issues including water and swim safety
  • Transitioning kids from home into a childcare program
  • High school years, homework and applying for post-secondary education

We’ll do our best to address issues of all four of the communities that we run programs in:

  • St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club Founding Clubhouse – Bathurst/Dupont
  • Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Clubs
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Weston-Mount Dennis
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Lawrence Heights

If you have an idea for an article, or a topic you would like addressed, please feel free to email us. We’d love your feedback.

The People of St. Alban’s: Lawrence

Meet Lawrence Manu, a staff member in our Jane and Finch community who has been working with us for three years.

What department do you work in?

I am the site lead for the Driftwood Court location in the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club community.

What are your favourite activities to do with the kids here?

The children at the Driftwood Court location have shown great strengths when it comes to expressing their feelings and opinions.  Activities such as debating on various topics, role playing scenarios, and having group discussion about their day stands out to me. Visiting other locations to engage in friendly competition, in basketball, soccer and dodge ball has also been some of the most memorable moments.

How do you think working here prepares you for your future?

The Boys and Girls Club has allowed me to absorb several skills that can be utilized in most social worker fields. Practicing patience and understanding different personality traits goes along way and will always be fundamental for future endeavors.  Working with the children has greatly improved my social skills. I have learned how to relay my message effectively by using different tones and body language that can be understood by all. Last but not least, engaging with the children from various backgrounds and cultures has given me a broad sense of the many perspective one may view the world from.

What has been the best part about working here?

The best part about working here is bringing joy and excitement to the children in the program. When you walk into a room and they greet you with smiles and cheers is an amazing feeling in itself and reminds me of the remarkable work I am doing in the community.

What would you tell a parent who is considering signing their child up for a program here?

The Boys and Girls Club serves the community by providing after school homework assistance to those who seek it. We promote outdoor and indoor recreational activity that encourage a healthy physical lifestyle. The overall goal is to provide a safe and structured environment.

Spirit of Expression: One, Two, Step

by Angelo Castillo
Children and Youth Program Coordinator, 
Boys and Girls Clubs of Weston-Mount Dennis

FIVE…SIX… FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT! Those are the lovely sounds you hear when you pass by the Youth room at 121 Humber Blvd on a Thursday evening. For the past couple of months, the Humber Youth have been practicing their dance routine for leisure, school and for their upcoming performance at The Spirit of Expression on Saturday February 3rd. 

The Spirit of Expression is an annual showcase where members from Boys and Girls Clubs across Toronto share their artistic talents. There are singers, dancers, visual artists, MC’s and DJ’s – and it’s a great time to meet people from other Boys and Girls Clubs in the city. This year’s theme is “Celebrating the Decades.”

Last year, the Humber Youth known as Young Girls With Ambition performed at The Spirit of Expression and this year they’re back with a new look and a new name. Damali Clarke, Shanniah Decaul, and LaShea Jackson return with Daquane Hazel as a new addition to the group. BEAST MODE, is their new dance crew name – reminiscent of the saying that gym goers like to use when they’re lifting weights.

“We’re definitely excited! Last year was such an amazing experience; even though we were nervous, the energy of the crowd and performing for one was incredible! That’s why we’re called BEAST MODE. We’re amped up!” said Shanniah.

The youth were definitely hesitant when they found out that they would be dancing to 60s music. “When Dominique and Angelo told us that we would be dancing to 60s music this year we were a little disappointed; not interested almost. Dancing and music allows us to express ourselves and being told what songs we should be dancing to was a turn-off, but they convinced us,” LaShea Jackson replied.

Convincing the youth was definitely not an easy task. But having that discussion regarding the history of dance and music; and how it influenced most, if not all the musicians today was great to have. “Motown, most especially, the Jackson 5 are my favourite from that era for sure! We watched some of their performances online and they were amazing,” said Damali Clarke. “We worked with Angelo and thought about what songs we liked. He showed us different songs by different artists and eventually we came up with a great idea,” said LaShea.

Beast Mode will be performing at The Spirit of Expression on February 3, 2018 at Bloor Collegiate. Watch them perform and witness their great idea!

The People of St. Alban’s: Fallona

The People of St. Alban’s: Meet Fallona!

Hey everyone! Meet Fallona English. She is currently one of  our STARS after school program staff who has been with St. Alban’s for many years.

If you could choose an imaginary friend, who would you choose and why?
I would choose a fairy god parent because that way they could grant me wishes without being seen.

If you woke up tomorrow as an animal, what animal would you choose to be and why?
I would be a cheetah because they are my favourite animal and they seem so cool or I would be a sloth because they relax and eat all day

How long have you been at St. Alban’s?
I have been at St. Alban’s since I was 12 years old, so about 9 years. I started off going to summer camp and then I learned about all of the different programs St.Alban’s had to offer. After high school, I was so focused on my post secondary studies I stopped going to St. Alban’s but after a year of not going I realized what a great opportunity it would be to work at St. Alban’s based on my program in school.

What age group do you currently work with?
I currently work with the Rockets – so ages 10/11

What is your favourite thing about working at St.Alban’s?
I love my coworkers and how fun they make the environment for me. I love how each child has different bold personalities, I also love how St.Alban’s feels like a second home, I can go to my managers and talk to them like family and when I walk into the building I am always greeted with love and respect.

Do you have any secret talents?
I dont think its a secret but I LOVE the arts, so anything where I can use my creativity like dancing or doing arts and crafts.

If you had a super power, what would it be and why?
I would want to be able to fly because then I would never have to pay for any transportation. I would fly to work, school, the grocery store and even to other countries for vacation!

Holiday Crafts

by Michelle Clarke
Arts Coordinator

Here is a list of some of my favourite holiday crafts – great for those winter days when you want to cozy up inside and get creative : ) 

 

Christmas Wreaths

This one can be a little bit messy but a lot of fun and a great keepsake. (Craftingismylife.org)

Here’s another great wreath craft for those that prefer a little less mess. (mynameissnickerdoodle.com)

 

Snowflake Crystals

This one is also a bit of a cool science experiment. You can buy pipe cleaners from your local dollar store and borax is available in the cleaning aisle of most grocery stores. (stevespanglerscience.com)

Snow Paint

This is a really fun one that kids love. It’s a lot of fun just making it, and then even more fun to paint with it.  The recipe calls for peppermint extract but you can also make a scent free version that works just as well. (growingajeweledrose.com)

Holiday Fun with Popsicle Sticks

Here are some fun and easy popsicle stick tree ornaments. (onelittleproject.com)

Here is another great popsicle craft for those who celebrate Hanukkah. If glitter isn’t your think, you can also get some little sickers, mini-pompoms or rhinestones from the dollar store to decorate these – see the popcicle stick craft above for decoration inspiration ; )  (mamapeapod.com)

Snow Slime

Slime is always a huge hit for kids of all ages here at St. Alban’s. Here is a great sparkly snow slime. In this tutorial they store the slime in cute plastic tree ornaments (I’ve seen these at Michael’s craft store) , but you can also store your slime in any old jar or container if you aren’t able to track down the ornaments.  (iheartcraftythings.com)

If no one in your family wears contact lenses (the recipe above call for a bit of contact solution), try this recipe instead. (notimeforflashcards.com)

Free (or almost free) things to do for families in Toronto this month

No vacation booked?  Not to worry, there’s lots to do in this wonderful city of ours during the holidays.   And don’t forget, there’s always holiday break camp at St. Alban’s!

Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery History District

Bigger and better each year!  Local vendors, artisans, and food stalls with delicious and festive European street food.  A giant Christmas tree, a ferris wheel, a carousel, entertainment, and Santa himself!   Free on weekdays and only $6 on weekends.

 

Natrel Rink at Harbourfront Centre

A heated indoor change room with lockers and washrooms.  Food and hot drinks available at the rink side restaurant.  Skating is free!

 

Holiday Fair in Nathan Phillips Square

Skating and festive fun including vendors, food trucks, shopping, a fireside lounge, a carousel, music, entertainment and photos with Santa on weekends!

 

 

 

Christmas Flower Show

Both Allan Gardens and Centennial Park Conservatories host the Christmas Flower Show. Thousands of flowering plants and more than 30 varieties of poinsettia are on display along with topiary masterpieces.   Visitors are treated to horse and wagon rides, carollers, hot apple nicer and of course, visits from Santa!

Christmas in the Valley at Todmorden Mills

Explore the holiday traditions of Toronto past.  Enjoy festive treats and create a take home craft.  ($3-$7)

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Village at Evergreen Brickworks

Every December weekend and December 26-29 from 10am-5pm.  Play outdoors – try street curling, ride a fat bike, play in the Children’s Garden.  Shop – at the Saturday Farmer’s Market, the Sunday Etsy Market, or the Garden Market.   Eat – from local vendors or roast s’mores over a campfire!

What is your family up to this month?  Let us know in the comments!

Holiday Food Drive

tandis

by Tandis Aslanbick
Club Member

Hey everyone it’s Tandis back again!
Just letting everyone know that me and Youth Compass are going to be hosting a holiday food drive!

The information will be included on this flyer.


Thought it would be a great idea to give back to the community this holiday season.
Feel free to spread the word.
Let’s get into the holiday spirit and let the positivity spread throughout our souls.
Anyways hope everyone is enjoying the holidays.
Take Care and Happy Holidays.
Tandis

Preventing cyber-bullying

As the days get colder and shorter, kids are spending more time indoors and online.  While  it may be easy to say “no electronics” – we know that’s not always realistic for parents of kids in the digital age.  While we might monitor closely the online activities of very young children, as they get older, kids have more freedom and more access to electronics.   Just as we talk to kids about how to stand up to bullying IRL (in real life), we also need to talk to them about how to stay safe – and how to keep their friends safe – online.

(Throughout this article, we have included videos created by Boys and Girls Club members on the topic of Cyberbullying)

A major challenge with online communication versus schoolyard behaviour is that when we are online the perpetrators are often anonymous.  Bullying behaviour in person can often (although not always) be noticed and addressed by an adult – and the root cause of the behaviour can be identified. Not so with an online aggressor.  An online “bully” can be anything from a school mate displaying many of the same behaviours as they would in person – to an adult predator interested in much more dangerous acts.   

Talk to your kids about what they are doing online.  It’s difficult to stay current on every platform, app and game (yes, even the boring and seemingly pointless Minecraft) they are using, but it’s necessary for us to ensure their safety.   

Start the conversation by talking about cyberbullying in kid-friendly language: 

Cyberbullying is when someone sends you mean messages on the computer or cell phone. Sometimes one kid will do this. Sometimes a group of kids will do this. It can happen one time or lots of times. You might not even know who is doing it. Some examples of cyberbullying are: posting hateful comments about other people on websites, blogs, through text messaging and instant messaging, stealing passwords and sending out threatening emails or instant messages, embarrassing others through name-calling, gossiping, spreading rumours.*

As a child’s age, maturity, and online activity dictates, a conversation about online predators can follow.  

An online predator is an Internet user who exploits vulnerable people, usually for sexual or financial purposes. Adolescents and the elderly are most often the victims of online predators. Online victimization of minors can include requests to engage in sexual activities or discussions by an adult; unwanted exposure to sexual material; online harassment, threats or other aggressive communications that are not sexual in nature but cause distress, fear or embarrassment.*

Tips for handling cyberbullying and online predators:
Often, it’s up to young people themselves to protect themselves and address threats online as incidents often occur out of the view of adults.   It’s up to us to help arm kids and teens with the awareness and tools they need to protect themselves and their peers. 

  1. Guard your contact information. Don’t give people you don’t know your cell phone number or e-mail address. Don’t accept friend requests from strangers.
  2. Take a stand against cyber bullying with your peers. Speak out whenever you see someone being mean to another person online. Most kids respond better to criticism from their peers than to disapproval from adults.
  3. If you are being harassed online, take the following actions immediately:
  • Tell an adult you trust – a teacher, Boys and Girls Club staff, parent/guardian, older sibling or grandparent/guardian.
  • If you are being harassed, leave the area or stop the activity (i.e. messaging platform, online gaming)
  • If you are being bullied through e-mail, text or messaging, block the sender’s messages. Never reply to harassing messages.
  • Save any harassing messages and forward them to the platform admin (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat). Most service providers have appropriate use policies that restrict users from harassing others over the Internet – and that includes kids!
  • If the bullying includes physical threats, tell the police as well.*

*From the Take It EASY Program Manual, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.

Need help, support or resources for talking to your kids or teens about online safety?  Boys and Girls Club staff can help.  

In memory of our friend Hughgo Extavour

Hughgo Joseph Extavour
April 12, 1940 – October 18, 2017

Whenever we heard a friendly voice call “Greetings! Greetings!” we knew that Hughgo was in the building! Hughgo came to the Club on a regular basis to use the exercise area, and we looked forward to the interesting stories and conversations he brought with him.  He chatted with the staff and danced with the preschoolers outside.   We will miss his warmth, his laugh and his positive attitude. Rest in peace, Hughgo.  

Hughgo (Hugh) Joseph Extavour passed away in his 78th year in his Toronto home. Beloved son, brother, husband, father, grandfather,uncle, cousin, friend, mentor. Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, third child of Daphne Patience Clothilda Extavour and Eric Conrad Extavour, he came to Canada in 1967 and extended the Extavour name into this country. Founding member of Martinsday, Caribana, Afropan, King Friends International and countless other community upliftment activities; musician, drummer, philosopher, social entrepreneur and artist. He spent 30 years at the CBC as a
broadcasting technician.

He is survived, honoured and remembered by his partner and wife Doris Matyas Extavour, their children Mariea Esi Anne Extavour, Mwanajuma Ericka Dorothea Extavour, Marcius Hugh Tutankhamun Extavour, and Cassandra Gabrielle Makeda Extavour, grandchildren Simone Avenel Dorothea Extavour and Vivien Irene Daphne
Extavour, and all Extavour family extensions.

 

Private cremation has taken place in Toronto, and a celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

We are so honoured that the family has requested that donations in Hughgo’s memory will go to St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club.  Please indicate that your donation is in Hughgo’s name.

Halloween Crafts

by Michelle Clarke
Creative Arts Coordinator

There are so many fun Halloween crafts! Here is a shortlist of a few of my favourites that are easy to prep and budget friendly : )

 

Paper Plate Spider (iheartcraftythings.com)
I recently made a similar craft to this with our senior preschool class, and not only did we have fun making them, but the kids played with them for a long time afterwards and had fun singing songs and making funny voices for their puppets too!

 

Puffy Ghosts (thrivinghomeblog.com)
This one is really simple (all you need is paper, glue and a bag of cotton balls) and great for preschoolers.

 

 

 

Paper Plate Witch Craft (craftymorning.com)
Kids can decide to make either a good witch or a bad witch!

 

 

 

Finger Print Bat Silhouette (craftymorning.com)
This one is great for younger kids because it’s not too complicated and the finger painting is fun and sensory…but this would also be great if you have a variety of ages – the older ones can just do more themselves and maybe get extra creative with the colours or painting.

 

Mini Mummy Pinatas (diycandy.com)
So fun! Kids of any age would love this…I can’t wait to try it myself!

 

 

 

Secret Message Pumpkins (readingconfetti.com)
Another great one for all ages.

 

 

 

If you love these ideas but don’t have the time or energy to make them happen, come out to our fall fair on October 28th from 1-4pm, where we’ll have a craft station set up as well as many other fun Halloween activities.

St. Alban’s alumni & the next generation: Ayokah, Ariel and Aveline Beauchamp

We recently caught up with Ayokah Beauchamp, who attended programs at St. Alban’s as a child.  Now, the tradition continues as both her daughters attend programs here! 

When I was 9 years old, I started attending the after school and swim programs at St. Alban’s. I walked there from my school down the street every day. My elementary school used the pool as well so I went there throughout all of elementary school for swimming.

Some of my best memories were spending time with my friends at the Club and playing in the games room after school. I loved the swimming program there as well. 

I had such good memories at St. Alban’s that when we were looking for a swim program for my step-daughter, Ariel, St. Alban’s was my first thought and it’s so close to her school. She loved the March Break swim program so much and her swimming improved  by leaps and bounds so we enrolled her in the regular weekly swim program. We saw that there was an all girls summer camp week and thought that would be perfect. She had so much fun we enrolled her in another week and her friend decided to also join.  Ariel had nothing but good things to say every day after summer camp and she can’t wait to go again next year.

I’m going to be signing my one year old daughter, Aveline up for the Starfish swimming program this winter and continue with all her swimming at St. Alban’s. When she’s older we will also sign her up for summer camps as well. I love that the girls will be continuing in the tradition of having fun at St. Alban’s and learning to swim at the same place I did when I was young.
 
If you have an alumni story, please share it with us so that we can feature you on our next blog!