For many newcomer youth, March Break is just a time to relax at home. But in the GTA, three community agencies have free programs that may give them a brighter future in Canada.
When students compete for a job, a scholarship, or entry into college or university, recruiters look for characteristics that set a student apart. Experience in community involvement, social justice, leadership, and the arts can make any application stand out.
Just like their parents, newcomer teens need Canadian experience to succeed. Here are three March Break programs which can help:
1. V.O.I.C.E. – Voicing Our Ideas for Change and Empowerment (North York)
Where: John Polanyi Collegiate Institute, 640 Lawrence Avenue West
When: March 16-20, 10:00-4:00
Eligibility: Teens with Permanent Resident/Convention Refugee status
At North York Community House, Youth Leadership Worker Amy Forristal runs some of the most creative newcomer programs in the city.
This March Break, her V.O.I.C.E. (Voicing Our Ideas for Change and Empowerment), program is focused on arts-based leadership for newcomer students living in North York.
Forristal will be collaborating with Filipino youth mentors and with a number of arts organizations such as Culture Shock, Fabe Productions, and ArtStarts. There will be sessions in professional dance choreography, djembe drumming, visual arts, and more.
For students who may be nervous about fitting in, Forristal said, “It’s not about having the skill or being a ‘good artist’; it’s about being open to trying new things, discovering creative ways to communicate, and having the confidence to express yourself, judgment free.”
Students will receive community hours for participating in different arts sessions, and for helping to organize an event celebrating youth accomplishment that will be open to parents, friends, and community members at the end of the program.
For more information about V.O.I.C.E., contact Amy Forristal at email@example.com
2. Get Outside the Box! (Scarborough)
Where: Centre for Immigrant & Community Services, 2330 Midland Avenue
When: March 16-20, 10:00-3:30
Eligibility: Youth in Grades 7-12 with Permanent Resident/Convention Refugee status
In Scarborough, Katie Li, Youth Settlement Worker at CICS (Centre for Immigrant & Community Services), is facilitating the Get Outside the Box! program.
Along with activities based on teamwork and personal development, students will enjoy the numerous field trips that Li has planned.
Students will enjoy a printmaking session at Agincourt Public Library, and will volunteer at a local food bank. Li is even open to bringing the students to an indoor roller skating rink. “We want newcomer students to step outside of their home environment and to explore the rich Canadian culture to help them settle into this new community,” she said.
For more information on Get Outside the Box!, contact Katie Li at (416) 292-7510 ext. 130.
3. Youth Conference on Social Justice and Diversity (York Region)
Where: Richmond Hill Welcome Centre, 9325 Yonge Street #31a, Richmond Hill
When: March 16th or 19th
Eligibility: York Region teens with Permanent Resident/Convention Refugee status
In York Region, the Red Cross and the Catholic Community Services of York Region will be hosting their 5th Youth Conference on Social Justice and Diversity.
With the help of youth facilitators and settlement workers from Settlement & Education Partnership in York Region, students will learn how to stop discrimination. They will define social justice and diversity, create policies, and brainstorm ways to resolve social justice issues in their community.
For students seeking to work or study in fields such as social work or political science, this program would be a worthy addition to any application form.
And post-conference, students will teach others the lessons that they have learned. “After the one-day workshop, the participants will go back to their schools and undertake a project to promote social justice and diversity among their peers,” said coordinator Agnes Manasan.
For more information on the Youth Conference on Social Justice and Diversity, contact Agnes Manasan at firstname.lastname@example.org
But why are only Permanent Residents and Convention Refugees eligible? Due to Citizenship and Immigration Canada funding, participation in these three March Break programs is restricted by status.
These free programs would give any newcomer teen something unique when applying for a job, a scholarship, or entry into college or university. But with March Break approaching fast, register today!
This article was originally published in The Philippine Reporter on February 27th, 2015.