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.

Want to be a lifeguard? Brendan tells us how!

Hi! My name is Brendan, and I’ve been a lifeguard and swimming instructor here at St. Alban’s for over three years. I love what I do, and I’m going to explain how you can get certified as a lifeguard and swim instructor so that you can do it too.

If you want to be a lifeguard and swim teacher, the first thing you have to do is to learn how to swim. If you don’t already know how, then take some lessons at St. Alban’s, because we have so many teachers who’d love to help you learn. Or if you just want to get back into practice then come to our pool for a lane swim or family swim.

Once you know how to swim, the first step towards getting started is to take your Bronze courses, which introduce you to how to save people in pools or even lakes. There are three levels of Bronze course; Bronze Star, Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross, but if you’re 13 or older then you can skip Bronze Star and go straight into Bronze Medallion.

After getting your Bronze Medallion and Cross, you’ll need to take a Standard First Aid course, with CPR level C, before your lifeguard course. After all, it wouldn’t be good if lifeguards could pull people out of the water but didn’t know how to treat them afterwards! This First Aid course will teach you many first aid concepts including how to use an AED and how to treat all sorts of injuries.

If you’re First Aid Certified and have Bronze Medallion and Cross, then congratulations! You’re ready to take the National Lifeguard course! This is an intense crash course, which usually takes two weekends to test you on everything you’ve learned in the Bronze and First Aid courses. And that’s just the beginning – it also makes sure you’re a great swimmer, and teaches you all sorts of pool-specific skills such as how to remove people from the water using a spinal board.
Once you get this certification you’re a full lifeguard.

If you want, you can now take an instructor course which will let you pass on your love and skill for swimming to others. There are even more advanced instructor courses, which I haven’t taken yet, but which I might do someday. These courses teach you how to pass on your first aid knowledge to others, or even how to certify new lifeguards!
I hope this has been helpful in teaching you how to become a lifeguard and swim instructor, and I hope to see you soon at the pool practicing your swimming, or maybe even guarding with me!

(All the courses that Brendan mentioned are offered here at St. Alban’s – you can read the program descriptions and sign up online.) 

The People of St. Alban’s: Davida and the kids at Humber

by Davida Fullerton
Placement student and former Focus on Youth Employee 
Studying at Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning
Social Service Worker Diploma Program
Davida is completing a 9 week student placement at our Humber Blvd location

I eagerly wait for the children to arrive at 121 Humber Boulevard. As the children arrive I hear the hall fill with the sounds of laughter and excitement. Their enthusiasm is amazing and I can see they are ready to have fun. The door creaks open and I see different sets eyes peaking in and saying “Hello.”  I laugh and tell them to come inside. The door opens and they move to sit inside to talk and play while I do attendance. When all the kids finally arrive I begin to interview each one, even if only for a few minutes. Here are the questions and their answers.

What do you look forward to most when coming to the Boys and Girls Club?

– Playing
– Having fun
– Seeing my friends
– Summer camp!

From a scale of 1-10 how great is the after school program?
– 7
– 8
– 10
– “11..someone broke the scale!” – says Jeremih

Who’s your favourite staff and why?

– Inca because she taught me how to make gimp – says Shadae 
– Davida because she’s fun and nice – says Jeremih
– Anna from summer because she was funny and nice – says Luckia
– Daliah because she’s funny – says Monique 

What’s something you learned from being at the Club?

– Treat others the way you want to be treated – says Iheem 
– No bullying
– How to swim – says Jeremih
– How to make gimp – says Shadae

Even though some of these kids are still working on reading and writing, they have a lot to say and know more than we think! As they grow up, the people around them need to continue to be positive role models and examples. The after school program gives them a space to be free, hang with friends, complete their homework and stay out of trouble. When they are old enough, they can join the youth program where there are a variety of amazing programs just for them. Working with kids can be challenging at times but it’s definitely worthwhile. Children are the future and soon they will run the world. It is our duty to provide them with the tools to not only grow in the world but thrive and I’m happy to say I’m a part of something that does just that.

The people of St. Alban’s: Meet Yash

Today we get a chance to get to know one of the newest and most ambitious youth staff members at St. Alban’s – Yash Preswalla. An outstanding member of our community and his own, Yash has gone above and beyond to break down barriers, create safe spaces and build self-esteem among the youth population across the GTA. His methods may seem unconventional to some, but even the biggest naysayers can’t argue with what he has been able to accomplish. 

How long have you worked at St. Alban’s?

I have been at St. Alban’s for almost one year now.

Time flies! Tell us EXACTLY what you do here.

I started off working in the preschool department, which was the reason I came to St. Alban’s in the first place. After Karen gave me a tour of the building and a rundown of all the other programs offered here, I noticed the skateboarding program and naturally gravitated toward that. I now facilitate instructional skateboard programming for the kids in grades 1-6. With support from STARS staff members we are able to offer group lessons to start the day, and then break off into smaller groups and/or 1-on-1 lessons. In the evening we shift over to youth skateboarding for anyone aged 12+. There is not as much need for instructions with the teenagers, but I like to offer tips and advice when I see the youth trying out new tricks. I really just love to see the community members do well and succeed, which is why I always try to make myself available for support.

What is the BEST part about working at St. Alban’s?

I love seeing kids progress. When kids go from being intrigued about skateboarding, to gathering enough courage to come into the gym and join the program, to then eventually learn how to ride a skateboard – that’s what it’s all about. I really like that St. Alban’s is an inclusive community that allows everyone to feel welcome. I’ve noticed that kids don’t treat other kids with exceptionalities any differently. It’s really cool to see.

What are some differences you’ve seen between working children vs. working with youth?

I find that the younger kids look up to the staff as role models, and because of that we are able to work on little things, unrelated to skateboarding, like manners. Reminding them to say please and thank you, holding the door for their friends, just being respectful, in general. Kids need boundaries and I find they are willing and able to follow instructions/directions. With the youth, the relationships go beyond just skateboarding. Myself, and the other staff members do a lot of mentoring to help these young people transition into adulthood. Building healthy adult relationships is huge for young people.

What does Yash do for fun, other than working at St. Albans?

I honestly don’t have very much down time these days because of everything I have going on. When I do find some free time I really enjoy reading. I just love learning. I also practice a few different martial arts, such as aikido, taekwondo and karate. They are great for learning discipline but I also really enjoy doing them. They’re great for physical activity and I have a lot of fun doing them.

Tell us a little bit about your new organization and what programs you offer.

Sure. I started a non-profit, inclusive skateboarding organization called Impact Skateboard Club. We focus primarily on personal development through skateboarding. There are 3 major components we focus on; Education, Accessibility and Social Justice. We want to show the differences between privileged vs. less privileged. We want to give a voice to the voiceless. We have held donation drives for school supplies and given the proceeds to a women’s shelter on Queen St E called Nellie’s. Every month we focus on donating to a different cause, whether it’s for youth mental health, adults with special needs, etc. It is really important for us to show the value of giving back to those in need, and to the community in general. We pride ourselves on being fully accessible, which is why we’re always working on finding funding, such as JumpStart grants, etc. If there are people who really want to be a part of Impact Skateboard Club, we want to be able to waive some fees, if not offer the program for free altogether.

For more information on Impact Skateboard Club contact Yash at yash@impactskateclub.com and follow Impact on social media: 

instagram.com/impactskateclub

facebook.com/impactskateboardclub

 

The people of St. Alban’s: Which preschool staff said it?

Meet some of the preschool staff! Karen, Debbie, Angela, Kimberly, Foss, Susana, Basra, and Bankeni
Who do you think said it……?  Make your guess in the comments section! 


How long have you been working at St. Alban’s?

Staff #1: 15 yrs
Staff #2: on and off for 20 + years
Staff #3: 8 – 9 months
Staff #4: 10 yrs
Staff #5: I have been working at St. Albans for 10 years. 
Staff #6: Started working at March 2011 almost 8 years ago
Staff #7: 6 yrs
Staff #8: 16 yrs

What age group do you currently work with?

Staff #1: Preschool age
Staff #2: Toddlers
Staff #3: Preschoolers
Staff #4: Preschool
Staff #5: I work in the Toddler room. 
Staff #6: Junior preschool                                                        
Staff #7: Toddler
Staff #8: birth to 99 yrs!

What is your favorite thing about working with St. Albans? 

Staff #1: Getting to know all the children and families spending time with the children

Staff #2: I immensely enjoy working with the children. I feel like I get rewarded in small little ways that make me feel “big”.

Staff #3: Children and families

Staff #4: I got to know and love my children and their parents

Staff #5: I enjoy working in  St. Albans Toddler room because I get to watch the developmental changes that occur in my room from when a child first enters the room to when they leave.  I also enjoy their excitement and joy including the things they say and do I find amazing!  Most importantly I love their hugs and how they see me as a super star!  Of course I also enjoy the relationships that are created with the parents along with working with wonderful team members and a caring, hard working boss!

Staff #6: Favorite thing about working at St. Albans is the feeling of sense of community and belonging          

Staff #7: I enjoy being around the friendly families and parents in the centre. I love to work with the parents as a team.

Staff #8: I love working with all of the families at St. Alban’s, providing support and being the “go to” place for everything!

What do you like to do in your down time? 

Staff #1: Lol rest and spend time with my twin nieces and drive my teenager nuts
Staff #2: ‘Jammies and a good book
Staff #3: I like to cook, clean and read and listen to music
Staff #4: Read
Staff #5: During my down time I like to read books such as, “Anne of Green Gables,” “Pride and Prejudice.”  Also I watch old movies such as, “Goonies.”  I love spending time with my family and my 2 best friends.  I really enjoy cooking shows and I could watch Martha Stewart all day!
Staff #6: My down time I like to spend it with my family and friends watching movies and going out to restaurants.                                                                
Staff #7: I would like to have down time so I can just relax
Staff #8: Relax

Do you have any secret talents? 

Staff #1: Those are secret I can’t reveal those
Staff #2: I am double jointed
Staff #3: I like to sing
Staff #5: I don’t think I have any secret talents other than that I can knit a scarf, and I used to play the piano and the flute.
Staff #6: I’m a really good storyteller and I can make paper boats, airplanes
Staff #7: Sewing
Staff #8: Writing, story telling and making up songs!!!

If you had a super power, what would it be and why? 

Staff #1: if I had a superpower hmm I’d want two one to fly (so I wouldn’t have to deal with traffic) & be able to turn invisible because who wouldn’t want that power
Staff #2: I would want to read minds
Staff #3: I would be the spreader of peace, togetherness and unity
Staff #4: Superhuman endurance which would allow me to exert myself during activities without getting tired. With this power, you could run marathons, clean the house, and study for long periods of time with ease and sleep
Staff #5: If I had a secret power it would be to go back in time and be able to fix a bad situation/choice before it happens.
Staff #6: If I had superpowers it would be the ability to pause all the happy moments in life and enjoy it a little longer.                                                                
Staff #7: I would love to be able to make everyone in the world work as a team. To be able to make the world have love, peace, no war.
Staff #8: Invisibility

If you could choose an imaginary friend, who would you choose and why? 
Staff #1: Casper the Friendly ghost – because he was my favorite childhood character growing up.
Staff #2: Wonder Woman because I’ve always like her since I was a child – a strong, powerful woman!
Staff #3: The invisible man so I can observe and see everything in my surroundings.
Staff #4: Jodi Ellen Malpas. I love her books. I will like to be friends with her so she can tell me where she get these amazing story ideas. I will like to know her main character in these books. How all these character where create
Staff #5: My imaginary friend would be a woman covered in leaves and flowers and she would take barren places on earth and make them green so that the people living there can survive and be happy.
Staff #6: I’m already my own imaginary friend that’s hard to beat!!!                                                                          
Staff #7: I can not have an imaginary friend.

If you woke up tomorrow as an animal, what animal would you choose to be and why?
Staff #1: would choose to be a sloth because I’m always on the go and if I was a sloth I would have to slow down and enjoy lots of naps
Staff #2: A dove because it is so peaceful.
Staff #3: An eagle so I can see things before it happens and resond.
Staff #4: A dragon because I think they are unique creature(also game of thrones)
Also like the song and the book of puff the magic dragon. So l love dragons.
Staff #5: If I woke up tomorrow and could chose an animal I would be an elephant.  First elephants are strong and they protect one another especially their young!  Also an elephant never forgets and I sometime forget things!
Staff #6: The animal I would pick is elephant very nurturing, emotional, confident, compassionate, social and great leadership skills just like me 😃
Staff #7: I can’t be an animal.

Do you think you know the preschool staff?  Guess which staff is which in the comments section! We’ll let you know if you are correct! 

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