The people of St. Alban’s: Meet Marta!

Meet Marta, a Raise the Grade mentor volunteer! Marta has been a mentor for the Raise the Grade program for almost two years. She started out as an amazing placement student working with our youth in programs such as Raise the Grade, Youth Compass, Sole Sisters and is overall a great spirit in our community!

When did you join Raise the Grade and what made you choose to be a volunteer mentor?
I joined officially in January 2018 and had the pleasure of doing my placement at St. Alban’s prior and got to see how the program worked. I like the idea that it is a one-on-one mentorship experience with the youth. You are able to witness their growth and accomplishments throughout the year and it is a nice feeling know that you were able to mentor them during it all.

What is your favourite thing about the Raise the Grade program?
Being able to see the growth of the youth by the end of the school year and how happy they are with their accomplishments!

How do you like to relax especially when dealing with stress?
Throwing on a pair of running shoes, putting on a great 90’s playlist and taking a run around the city!

Sweet or Savoury? Favourite Snack?
100% Savoury! Chips are my weakness!

Dream travel destination?
Definitely Thailand. I love having the opportunity to experience different cultures and the country looks beautiful. I also LOVE Thai cuisine.

If you could give one piece of advice to your past self, what would it be?
Never give up on what makes you happy. With hard work and determination, you can achieve anything…even if it takes a couple of tries and failures to get there!


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

Meet Zachary, a long-time youth member at our main clubhouse.  Zachary has been a youth member since 2011 and is an active participant in our Raise the Grade program for five years. He also works part-time with our STARS after-school program and summer camp

What made you join the Raise the Grade program?

I joined the Raise the Grade program because I needed extra help and support with my academics.  I like the fact that I can work 1-on-1 with a mentor/tutor who is matched and catered to my academic needs and to also have someone I can trust and talk to on a regular basis.

Tell us about your biggest academic challenge and how did you overcome it?

My biggest academic challenge would have to be during my senior year in high school.  I found out that I did not get accepted to my top school and program at Ryerson University. I had several other acceptances and almost went to another school. However after getting advice from my friends, family, and my mentor, I made the tough decision to do an extra year of high school and applied again. I ended up graduating my 5th year of high-school with honours and got accepted into the Sport Media program at Ryerson University! Moral of the story: Do not rush the process!

What is the best part about being a Raise the Grade participant?

I love that I can create a special bond with a mentor that is here to help me improve in various ways. I’ve known my current mentor, Stewart, for two years and he has helped me so much. The program gave us the opportunity to get to know each other and I’m thankful for his time and guidance.

What are your hopes and goals for the future?

My future goal is to graduate university with a degree in Sport Media and connect with individuals in the media world. My hopes are to work as a sports anchor and journalist for a Sport Media Company such as TSN!

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: 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.