Shaping generations of positive role models

Moorelands Kids – Shaping Generations of Positive Role Models.

I love Moorelands because it feels like a family and it’s an inclusive environment. I feel confident sending my kids here because I know they’re going to be safe and taken care of, but they’re also going to learn positive life skills and have great experiences they wouldn’t get elsewhere.” Clayton Jackson

Clayton and Arianna's Story

Clayton Jackson attended Moorelands Camp in the late 1990s and today works as an Early Childhood Educator in Flemingdon Park. His daughter Arianna, 11, has attended Moorelands BLAST for the past two years and this summer got the chance to go to Moorelands Camp for the first time. Clayton’s younger daughter, Serena, 6, is also enrolled in Moorelands BLAST.

Clayton’s Story

“Having been to Moorelands myself when I was a teenager, I knew what a great experience it was and when I heard they had after-school programs here in the city, I didn’t hesitate to send my girls. My wife and I both work but daycare fees are so expensive. The affordable cost of Moorelands BLAST has been a big help to us.

“Moorelands’ programs have had a positive effect on my children too, of course. Arianna used to be so reserved and got picked on at school. But BLAST has really helped build up her self-esteem and she’s become much more outgoing and confident. She’s found positive role models, like Cheeri-oh!, who have given her the confidence to be brave and to try new things.

“Moorelands doesn’t just teach children new skills, it gives them the confidence to use those skills in the real world and help them succeed.”

Shaping generations of positive role models
Clayton and Arianna attend Moorelands BLAST day at the Jays Care Clubhouse!
Shaping generations of positive role models
Arianna and Surina meet ACE
Shaping generations of positive role models
Arianna and Surina making bannock at BLAST
Shaping generations of positive role models
Arianna and Surina with Tower - STEM activity at BLAST
Shaping generations of positive role models
Arianna with her cabin at camp

Arianna’s Story

“My favourite thing about BLAST is all the different activities and all the friends I have made. My favourite thing about camp is all the MAPs (Moorelands Activity Picks) and experiencing new things.  I think my most favourite thing is Arts and Crafts – I really liked making Dream Catchers this summer at camp.

“I think the leaders at Moorelands are really nice because they’re kind to everyone and encouraging and fun.  I think they’re good role models because they’re someone you can look up to and want to be like when you’re older. They’re always encouraging you to try new things.

“My role models are Cheeri-oh! and my mom and dad because they all encourage me and help me and show me the right thing to do.

“At Moorelands I learned that it’s ok if you’re nervous to do something new, you’ve just got to try and it can be fun!  I also learned about being responsible and that will help me in school – for example by being responsible for your own things and also being responsible for helping the community. Because of Moorelands, I try to be a good role model and a good citizen.  I encourage my friends to do the right thing and if they’re upset and I see how I can make them feel better and encourage them.

“At first I was nervous to go to camp but then when I went and I had so much fun so I want to go back next year. I’m really looking forward to going back to BLAST too and seeing all my friends!”

We’re looking forward to continuing to provide Arianna and her younger sister Surina with all the great things that Moorelands has to offer. You can be a part of making that a reality. Become a BLAST sponsor today.


campfire confidence


“Moorelands changed Natalie. Be Natalie’s hero. Make a donation before the end of the year to help Natalie spread some Moorelands “campfire confidence” to other Toronto kids.”

Natalie's Story

I’d like you to meet Natalie. She’s just one of the 133,000 children who are living in poverty in our city, right now.

Natalie was going through a tough time when I first met her.

Our BLAST leaders told me that she had been a victim of bullying at school and her self-esteem was at rock bottom. I watched her interacting with the other children at BLAST and I could see that, although she was struggling, the positive environment based on respect and caring was helping her, slowly but surely, come out of her shell.  It became clear to me that this was a child in need of the year-round support that Moorelands can offer. I determined, right then and there, to get Natalie to camp.

Fast-forward to this summer at Moorelands Camp where I had the pleasure of meeting Natalie again. This time around, it was like meeting a different person.  I saw her beaming with confidence as she sang camp songs with a group of friends around the campfire. As the campfire came to a close, her cabin group passed by. There she was, right in the middle, laughing and filled with joy as she recounted her time at camp and all she’d achieved. When I asked her what she had learned over her time at Moorelands she said;

“Moorelands has taught me how to be strong and think positively. From what I’ve learned here, I can teach others to be more confident like me.”  – Natalie, Age 10.

At Moorelands Camp, kids like Natalie get the opportunity to develop self-esteem and resiliency and to form positive, enduring friendships – the tools they need to overcome bullying and many other life challenges.

Moorelands changed Natalie. Be Natalie’s hero. Donate before December 31st 2017 to help Natalie spread some Moorelands “campfire confidence” to other Toronto kids.

Thank you!


Tom taking part in craft activity at BLAST


“Tom loved the lake, the campout and building a fire…now he can’t wait to get back to BLAST!

Tom's Story

Tom and his cabin at Moorelands Wilderness Camp
Tom and his cabin at Moorelands Wilderness Camp

11-year-old Tom has attended Moorelands BLAST (Budding Leaders After School Teams) for the past two years. This summer he came to us for his first real experience of summer camp at Moorelands Wilderness Camp – an experience that he wouldn’t have had were it not for you.

His father, Craig, like a lot of parents, was apprehensive about sending his son away for a week at first…  But what a week it was! Tom delighted in his camp adventure and “wished it was so much longer.”  He loved swimming in the lake, the campout, building a fire – now he can’t wait to go back to camp and back to BLAST!

Lessons in leadership and maturity

Craig too is pleased with his son’s experience: “Camp has really helped Tom gain independence and grow in maturity.”

For Craig, it’s the shared values of both programs which make so much impact:

“The leaders at any program are like ‘pseudo parents’, it’s important for me to know that we’re all on the same page. When Tom came back from camp, he wouldn’t stop talking about respect and responsibility. It’s the same with BLAST.  Every day, Jaleel (the program leader) would tell us parents what our kids had been working on – like communication or teamwork – and Tom and I would carry on those lessons at home.”

It’s clear that Tom is eager to get back to BLAST. What is it that excites him the most? “Friends, the staff, cooking lessons…and basketball!” says Tom.

Tom takes part in a science experiment at BLAST
Tom takes part in a science experiment at BLAST
Tom enjoys cheering on his friends at BLAST-A-THON
Tom enjoys cheering on his friends at BLAST-A-THON

Getting active with Physical Literacy

Craig adds, “His new interest in sports is something that I attribute A LOT to Moorelands. Before I found it hard to get him excited about anything physically active. Now he goes to BLAST, I know he’s doing something active every day… and he loves it!”

Craig and Tom are both proud to be a part of Moorelands, a “positive force in the community.”

“I hope we’ll stay here and keep these connections,” Craig smiles, “Tom never wants to leave… he’s looking forward to going back to school so he can go back to Moorelands. He can’t wait. And now he keeps saying he wants to be a camp counsellor when he grows up!”

Way to go Tom!

Moorelands Logo - help us help kids

Registration night

Registration Night

Registration Night

Registration nights for Moorelands BLAST After-school Programs often prove to be real eye openers. Take a registration night at the bustling Grenoble Public School in Flemingdon Park for example. We’ve been delivering programs at this school of 1000 students since 1998 and each year, the demand for our programs has grown. Usually 2 registration nights are held and any remaining spots are filled during the first week of the program. This year was very different! When we arrived early for our 6.00 p.m. registration night we were shocked to see a line of people stretching out the door and half way around the school – more than 200 people had lined up to sign up their children for available spots.

As we frantically set up, the school’s staff informed us that people had started queuing at 2.30 p.m. There were parents, older siblings, grandparents, friends of the family and little children who had stayed on After-school with their parents, so families could secure space in the program. Hard working parents who are unable to afford childcare are desperate for a safe space for their children to be after school. Moorelands After-school Programs provide a nutritious snack and creative activities that help children develop self esteem and life-skills while having a lot of fun. Children are also supported in language learning and academics through homework help and literacy programs. The children in our programs soak up new experiences and are never afraid to make mistakes or try new things

Everyone in the line-up was incredibly patient. No one broke into line; no one became angry or protested about having to wait. People helped each other to complete the forms, even though they were strangers to one and other. People frequently stepped forward to assist with language interpretation even after they had registered and needed to get home themselves. As the spaces started to fill rapidly, the line still grew. In what seemed like moments, we were down to the last two After-school spaces. As we watched in shock, the woman who was next in line stepped aside to allow the person behind her to register his child, as he desperately needed to leave. As a result of her generosity, she was unable to register her own children because they were twins and they wanted to go together. She did not complain or protest.

All the spaces were filled in an hour and a half and another 10 children were put on a waiting list. We turned away many other deeply disappointed and desperate families with sadness and a sense of the overwhelming need for more programs such as this. And yet, frustration was not the only outcome. We left learning that while the community of Flemingdon Park might have a lack of resources, they were rich in mutual respect and support. The Moorelands After-school program at Grenoble is but a small piece in the fabric of this school and this community and yet an essential and sorely needed one.


Angela’s story


Angela first started attending the Moorelands After-school program at the Applegrove Community Complex when she was 11 years old. Today, at 22, she is a Program Leader at another Moorelands BLAST After-school program and also works at the Moorelands City Summer Day Camp in the summer.

“I wasn’t popular at school”, says Angela. I was the tallest; I had curly hair, buckteeth and acne. The Moorelands After-school was a place I could go where I wouldn’t be judged. It was a place where you were free to be who you are, a loving place, a safe place. I wanted to make sure the after-school program was the same for others as it was for me. The people there are the best.”

In her off hours, Angela is studying at George Brown College and is an active volunteer. She has been recognized with five awards for her volunteer efforts, including a Volunteer of Ontario Award.


Nasreen’s story



Nasreen was only 7 when her parents were killed before her eyes in Afghanistan. Her only living relative was her teenaged uncle. Together they fled to a refugee camp and within a year found themselves in Canada, newcomers sponsored by a Toronto church.

Once in Toronto, Nasreen was diagnosed with a blood disorder that required her to be taken to the Hospital for Sick Children every couple of weeks for a blood transfusion. The local Afghani community did not embrace the newcomers. Parents feared that her disorder might be contagious at worse or unlucky at best and would not let their children play with her.

When Nasreen joined the Moorelands BLAST After-school program she was very shy and quiet and did not have a single friend. To watch her alone in the school yard was enough to break your heart. Over time, she gained confidence working with other children on arts and crafts projects and taking turns reading. As the other children got to know her, they began to accept her. The mothers picking their children up from the After-school program also began to notice her and one mother gave her daughter permission to become friends with Nasreen. It was the first friend Nasreen made in Canada and her smile told everyone how important it was.

Physical Literacy

Physical Literacy at BLAST-A-THON

Having a BLAST with Physical Literacy at


On Friday May 20, kids from all three of Moorelands BLAST programs came together to show off their sports skills and compete in Moorelands’ BLAST-A-THON!

BLAST-A-THON 2016 was a physical literacy extravaganza! At this special event, BLAST kids competed in fun events like Egg and Spoon Race, Three-legged Race and Potato Sack Race.  The friendly competition had a focus on being active, developing team work skills and participation.

The sun was shining and there was not a cloud in the sky as our kids took to the race track.  BLAST kids have been honing their physical literacy skills like throwing, catching and running all month; it was wonderful to see their hard work in action. The best part of the afternoon was seeing our kids being great team players: supporting one another and cheering on their teammates. It made for such a fun day and really goes to show that it’s not the winning but the taking part that counts.

That being said…it was a competition…so hats off to the BLUE team who were the champions of the day. Second place was GREEN, followed by RED and YELLOW. Well done to all our participants, you guys rock!

The BLAST-A-THON couldn’t have happened without the hard work of our staff and volunteers. A special thank you to Moorelands Youth LED volunteers who helped organise the events and made the day run so smoothly. They really demonstrated excellent communication, decision making, teamwork and initiative – WELL DONE!

Physical Literacy

Another big thank you goes out to our volunteers from McCarthy Tetrault: Brianne, Etienne and Alyssa – you guys were so much fun and excellent role models for our BLAST kids, thank you for being there at the finish line to cheer on our kids!

Finally, thank you to our friends over at Mondelez for providing treats for the goodie bags for our BLAST champions!  The kids loved the fruit creams and snack packs!

Thank you EVERYONE who took part, you made yourselves proud. Looking forward to BLAST-A-THON 2017!

Have a great week!

Physical Literacy

Physical Literacy - team players
Physical Literacy
Leaders recycle

Moorelands’ hub – March 21, 2016 – Leaders “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”…

Hey Moorelands!

As you may know, our programs at Moorelands focus on giving kids the skills they need to be leaders who can make a positive impact in their own lives as well as in their community.

Check out the pictures below from a recent scavenger hunt activity at BLAST Thorncliffe which took place during the theme week of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”.

Participants learned about the benefits of recycling as they were given the task of tracking down recycled items and then competing to build the tallest tower with their bounty. The catch was their tower had to be able to hold a Lego structure for 5 seconds without having it fall down, so teamwork and problem solving skills were the key to success. And guess what? Our young leaders loved it!

Over at Moorelands Wilderness Camp, leadership skills are also key to kids’ development.

Through our Adventure Camp Experience (ACE) leadership camp, participants are challenged to become leaders by identifying their strengths, weaknesses and learning to work within a team.

Before participating in ACE, Moorelands’ campers, who’ve completed grade 9 and who have shown positive leadership potential, are invited to attend information sessions in the city.

It was great to see all of these campers come out and share with us some of the things they are looking forward to learning and how they are going to grow this year at camp.

Take a look at potential ACE leaders learning the ropes!

Last week was March break and well…when the kids are away, the staff like to play!

Moorelands welcomed our city programs staff into the office for a staff appreciation and development day. There were mini pizzas, leadership games and lots of laughs as the staff crew got together.  Staff were put into teams to engage in some friendly competition and brush up on their teamwork, communication and problem solving skills – you can tell from the grins on the green team’s faces that they came out on top!  It was great to see our program staff coming together to learn and have fun.

Have a great week!

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Hamza with her BLAST friends

Moorelands BLAST gives Families Peace of Mind

Nancy Stewart sits down with the Siddiqui/Moins family to talk BLAST!

For the Siddiqui/Moin family, Moorelands’ BLAST program (Budding Leaders After-School Teams) has had a positive effect on family life. Abdul really appreciates that his 10 year old twins, Hamza and Sana, get homework support and usually have their work completed before coming home. “It gives us more time for family and we don’t have to fight with them to do their work.” Zaibunnisa has noticed an improvement in how her children interact. “Their communication is absolutely improving. They know how to get along, to respect and express feelings. They work and play well together. When there are issues, they find solutions.”

As for Hamza and Sana, they can’t say enough good things about their time at BLAST! “I have made lots of new friends,” says Sana. “Even though we are different ages, we all think of each other as friends.” Sana shared how, while learning European handball, she and her teammates learned to set goals, cooperate and communicate. “We had to remember to pass the ball and to not forget all our teammates.”

Sana at BLAST
Sana (l) at BLAST

Hamza says that BLAST has helped him “physically and mentally”. He, too, has enjoyed learning to play handball, but he especially enjoyed the Egg Drop Challenge. His team won, barely, but Hamza says, “Win or lose, I wouldn’t care because I would know I tried my best. It would still be win-win for me.”

Hamza (l) enjoys a healthy snack at BLAST
Hamza (l) enjoys a healthy snack at BLAST

With both parents working, Moorelands BLAST program gives Abdul and Zaibunnisa peace of mind knowing their children are being well-cared for. “It’s a safe community,” says Sana. “If I have a bad school day,” says Hamza, “Moorelands makes me feel better. I love ending the week with Moorelands.”


By Nancy Stewart

Moorelands’ hub – Jan 18th 2016 – lunar landscapes and strawberry crepes…

There’s a lot going on at Moorelands right now…

Moorelands City Programs are back in full swing after the Holidays. BLAST Gateway kids have been polishing their cooking skills making delicious strawberry crepes. YUM!

Teaching our participants valuable life skills such as cooking is an important part of Moorelands’ programming.  At Moorelands, we know it’s vital that our kids not only have fun but learn transferable skills that prepare them to thrive in the wider world.  Through the process of making crepes our kids learned basic cooking skills and also developed the positive character qualities of sharing, responsibility and fairness. Check out the gallery:

At Moorelands BLAST Grenoble, jettisoned by super charged imaginations, our participants have been exploring lunar landscapes!  In this dual science and craft activity, BLAST kids experimented to create craters and learn about the landscape of the moon.

Team work is an important leadership quality and activities at Moorelands are structured to help kids build team work skills and positive peer relationships. Take a quick look at the mini-videos below to see how participants collaborated to build ideas and craft their landscapes.

Last week, Moorelands had the opportunity to celebrate some of our long-standing office volunteers over a delicious homemade soup lunch.  Moorelands is so very grateful to all our volunteers who make our work possible.

Our Baby Bundle program simply would not run without the work of Diane (who has been volunteering with us for a whopping 16 years) and Carol (who has been volunteering with Moorelands for a staggering 20 years!). These ladies frequently come into the office to sort through the generous donations from our donors and prepare bundles for distribution.

We also could not manage without the work of Eleanor (who supports the Development Team with mail outs), Ricardo (who’s been helping with the Moorelands’ website) and Jaleel (who volunteers at our Youth LED program).

To all of you and the many, many other Moorelands Volunteers: THANK YOU!

Finally, we’re so pleased to welcome three new staff to the Moorelands’ Office this week! Mike, Jodi and David took up their positions on Monday morning and were brimming with enthusiasm! Mike will be taking on the role of Programs Coordinator; Jodi will be our Interim City Programs Manager and David will be our new Assistant Director of Moorelands Camp. Welcome to the team you three!

who we are David Left

Have a great week!

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