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YU NORTH YORK Newsletter

“Through Their Eyes” no. O1 Fall 2013 no. 03



EVERYONE HAS A STORY Sketch & Believe | Kim

Summer 2013

Our North York team has undergone some significant changes. We miss Scott Moore now that he has transitioned from being Area Director to taking on a new challenge as the Executive Director of the whole YU chapter. But we are confident that this is the right move not just for him, but for our whole chapter. Please keep our North York team in your thoughts and prayers as we search for a new Area Director. In the meantime, this has not slowed us down as a team involved in dynamic work across North York. We continue to embrace our new vision and move forward in exciting directions! We remain committed to seeing the youth we serve experience God and His love as they create communities of hope across North York. This issue will highlight some of these exciting movements through the eyes of our program participants. Our vision would have little impact without the many youth and young adults who participate in our programs and with whom our staff walk so closely. They are the ones who have inspired us on this journey of creating a new vision. We wanted to share their stories and perspectives with you so that you can also be inspired and encouraged by them. I hope you enjoy seeing our work through their eyes.


“This girl’s gonna be the prime minister one day...she has such strong peer leadership” was Sketch & Believe’s leader Vanessa’s description of Kim. Even though she has only been attending the program since May 2013 Kim explains that since being in the Sketch & Believe program, she has changed alot. When asked what has changed about her, she says “I used to judge people... and I learned that that’s not good because I don’t always know their story”. She gives credit to Vanessa who she says has been a big part of this change, helping her to see that “everyone has a story, and has things going on in their lives”. Out of this, Kim is making a difference in the lives of others around her, specifically with her peers at school. “There’s this girl at my school... her dad is in jail and she does alot of bad stuff but Vanessa helped me to see that she has a story and we shouldn’t judge her so I stopped doing that”.


This is a true example of the difference someone can make around them and exactly what the programs here at YU North York aim to do. During the summer, Sketch & Believe takes time out of the regular schedule to do special trips, one of which was to travel to Muskoka Woods for a week at camp. Kim got the chance to do many different activities and even conquer a few fears, including going on a zip-line and giant swing, “I felt proud of myself after doing that!”

SUMMER CAMP 2013 Seeds of Hope

Revolution(s) bike ride

Sketch & Believe girls at The Chef Upstairs

Shoreham Court Animators at the back-to school BBQ

Outdoor games at Seeds of Hope Day Camp

This summer, our Seeds of Hope Day Camp saw 75 campers and 15 leaders and volunteers throughout 7 weeks. The program consists of daily activities, bible lessons and weekly day trips to places such as Marineland, the Science Centre, Petitcoat Creek, Casa Loma and Centre Island. The camp ended with five days of over-night camping at Camp Kwasind where the kids enjoyed canoeing, swimming and other fun activities. 9 year old Tazima attend-

ed Seeds of Hope, and was also able to go to Camp Kwasind for the week-long camping trip. When asked what her favourite part of the Day Camp was, Tazima explains it was the trip (her first ever) to Marine Land: “‘cause we got to see dolphins and we got to see the seals”. Another important part of the Seeds of Hope is a daily bible lesson. “I learned that God is always with us no matter what.” says Tazima.


GAINING CONFIDENCE Blueprints Entrepreneurship Program | Zoey

For 3 years, Zoey struggled as a single mother trying to find a job. Despite having finished a bachelor’s degree from York University, nothing seemed hopeful, and Zoey was beginning to feel like she was hitting rock bottom. “In my devasation and my depression, I reached out to God...and it just clicked!”


MAKING A DIFFERENCE Community Development Shoreham Court Animators | Taneeshia

Zoey is adamant that she was a different person before entering the Blueprints program. “My mind and the person I am inside changed...I know now I am not worthless, I’m not stuck..I can feel within myself that I can do this.”

When Zoey realized she had a deep passion for baking, she decided to pursue it through bake sales at her church. After recieving an e-mail about the Blueprints Entrepreneurship Program, she knew it was the perfect opportunity to improve her business skills and create a life for herself. “If I can’t get a job out there, I’m gonna make one myself, if they won’t give me a chance, I’ll give myself a chance” “The things that I’ve learned through blueprints have been amazing, I can’t even find words for it. Just learning how to finance, how to manage money, what it takes to start a business... every week, every class there was something new. I always go home feeling like ‘this is amazing’”

Below is a poem that Zoey picked to describe her experience at Blueprints: “Don’t Quit” When things go wrong as they sometimes will, When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill, When the funds are low and the debts are high And you want to smile, but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit. Life is queer with its twists and turns, As everyone of us sometimes learns, And many a failure turns about When he might have won had he stuck it out; Don’t give up though the pace seems slow-You may succeed with another blow.

When asked what her greatest accomplishment has been in the Blueprints program, Zoey replies by explaining: “it’s been just the change in myself. The accomplishment has been feeling better about myself and what I can do”

Success is failure turned inside out-The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell how close you are. It may be near when it seems so far. So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit-It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit. Unknown

Set in a secluded part of Jane and Finch, the Shoreham Court Community has been off the grid to most Social agencies in the surrounding area. Youth Unlimited however has involved area residents to work towards taking leadership roles not only to communicate with TCHC for the betterment of the community, but to gain funding to operate their own book club, after school program as well as community events. This past August, the Shoreham Court Animators successfully held their Back to School BBQ with the help of Stewart Vander Velden, the Community Development Coordinator from Youth Unlimited. The celebration, food and activities were representative of the community’s diverse peoples and the multicultural make-up of the community. Shoreham court business sponsors, area children and youth who displayed a commitment to being involved with the community were rewarded with appreciation plaques and cer-

tificates. Youth Unlimited continues to assist Shoreham Court Animators to empower community members to unite and build a stronger community. Excellent job Youth Unlimited! Without you the Shoreham court comm u n i t y would not have an active voice in the decisions that affect residents’ lives.



Revolution(s) | Semaon “If I weren’t in Revolution(s) I don’t know, really, what I’d be doing right now. Around me are people that I’ve seen who do nothing all day. I know that I could be like those guys; I’d be unoccupied and bored. And, like most teenagers, when I’m bored I do stupid things. Others around me smoke and drink and do nothing all day. I’d like to think I wouldn’t do those things too, but I just don’t know. Instead, I have things to do that are, to me, meaningful and fun. Being outside is an important part of Revolution(s). So I doubt I’d have been outside as much if I weren’t involved. I definitely wouldn’t be as active. One example of new things that have occupied my time is riding my BMX bike. I lost weight (about 40 lbs) because I was riding my BMX bike so much. But I didn’t get a BMX bike until I was involved with Revolution(s). I’ve had a lot of opportunities to think, reflect, about


life and decisions and the things I like and don’t like about myself. If I wasn’t involved in Revolution(s) I probably wouldn’t have thought about this stuff. Now, as a Senior Program Assistant, I have a lot more work to do. Without this role, I’d likely be really bored! I like the label of being a “Senior Program Assistant”. This title gives me a sense of importance because a) there are people that I help lead on a team, and b) the work that we do seems important and valuable, especially since I’m a BMX’er and what we do affects BMX’ing here in Willowdale. For someone who was like me a few years ago, who likes biking in Willowdale and is finishing elementary school, I’d totally want them to get involved with Revolution(s). There are a bunch of kids I see here in Willowdale, my own neighbourhood and at high school, that would really benefit from having an experience like I have had.”


“If I didn’t go to this program, I would have been in the neighbourhood chillin’ with the wrong people, but now I am learning more about basketball and the Bible” - Apriam, Roots participant

One of the foundational aspects of our vision here at YU North York is that our programs would generate communities of hope. The Roots basketball program is certainly acheiving this goal, running on Saturdays throughout the year and serving more than 40 youth from the surrounding neighborhoods. When asked what his favourite part of his first year in Roots was, participant Chamarke answered, “the BBQ, everybody was there.. people from the community and the program”. Since most of the leaders live right in the community, many of the youth get to hang out with them outside of program time. These relationships grow stronger through these informal interactions. They even inspire the youth participants to get more involved in the programs as leaders. Mubarik is a great example of this as he is a leader for the younger group. When asked if he thinks the program has made a difference in the community, Mubarik quickly responds, “it brings the community together”.



Benjamin | Seeds of Hope Summer Camp 2013 ended on August 28th at St. Jane Frances Catholic School with 75 campers attending for the entire 7 weeks . We had five day trips and ended with a five day camping trip to Camp kwasind.We look forward to what the Lord is going to do through the Hoop to Hope Program in the fall as we resume on the 20th of September. Clem | This fall we are running an advanced earn-a-bike program where we delve into some more complex bicycle mechanics. Participants from the past three cohorts will be invited back to join this program. Unlike previous earn-a-bikes where the youth were aiming to get a bike for themselves, the goal of this new cohort will be to fix bikes to raise money for charity. Jesse | Revolution(s) always BOOMS in the summer. Spring Garden Church hosted “Free Lupper” every Wednesday. Each Saturday we rode bikes at the Bayview Bike Park, and most Wednesdays we had Youth Leadership Team meetings, hosted twice by Starbucks. Lastly, our Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day on October 5th was a huge success and a great start to this new year! Karen | While I am sad to be leaving the team for a year, I am very excited for the reason! My husband and I are expecting our first child in November and I will be taking a Maternity leave beginning at the end of October. Paul | This summer has been eventful and life changing! I got married this summer and I am looking forward to that new chapter in our lives. Our Blueprints entrepreneurship group graduated this August, and it was a great conclusion to 6 months of hard work and self exploration. I am looking forward to the fall season of ministry as our sports mentorship program Hoop 2 Hope gets underway! Scott | I had a refreshing sabbatical this summer! While I was away, summer ministry still occurred. 7 youth travelled to Muskoka Woods for an amazing week at camp. We had 20+ youth sponsored to play organized soccer, 2 of which played rep, and 12 on my hour league team. We also had 2 youth who got summer jobs refereeing soccer. Looking forward to another season of ministry! Stewart | Summer 2013 has been a roller coaster of emotions. We’ve seen great community leadership, ownership and unity in the midst of tragedies with five young people killed in the area. Pray for healing and strength for the days ahead. Vanessa | This September will mark my second year running the Sketch & Believe program. It has been a blessing to watch these young ladies grow and this summer was no exception since we got to explore the GTA and beyond! Our theme this year is “Created for A Purpose” and we will dive deeper in the Word, learn about our self worth in Christ and continue to explore our creative giftings. Roots Basketball Program | Praise God for his faithfulness this year as we look to what He has in store for us in the New Year. We are looking forward in Flemo to creating an older ball program for our college age kids. This way we can continue to get to know the kids we know so far and develop new relationships too as each program will now have fewer kids.

YU North York is a division of Youth Unlimited (Toronto YFC) | CREATING COMMUNITIES OF HOPE THROUGH THE YOUTH WE SERVE.