The Growing Need for Moorelands Kids Leadership Programs
“Child Poverty Affects Families in Every Single Ward in Toronto,” read a headline from the Toronto Star’s coverage of the municipal elections in November. Sadly, the recently published 2018 Toronto Child & Family Poverty Report estimates that more than 125,000 children live in low-income families.
The data illustrates that poverty, long thought of as an ‘inner-city’ problem, exists across Toronto, including in all of our suburbs. The reoccurring election theme of making Toronto more inclusive speaks to the increasing challenge of addressing poverty in our city.
Child poverty is spreading, but so too is access to Moorelands Kids’ leadership programs. Moorelands Camp, offering leadership and life-skills opportunities, long recognized that children-in-need were not only an inner-city issue. Our camp is also available to children and youth from every ward in Toronto. This fall, in response to reports like those above, we expanded our geographic reach and opened two new Moorelands Kids’ after-school LED (Lead, Excel, Demonstrate) programs, for middle school children in grades 6—8.
Empowering new communities. Kids transforming their own lives— a glimpse into the new LED leadership program at Humber Summit Middle School.
In their third week of programs, as the new LED groups gathered, they learned about the importance of caring about others and communicating when working with others. The tool used for this exercise was a giant Jenga™ game—with a twist. To set the stage, participant teams were given the task of building towers with the choice of problem-solving as a team or working independently.
The outcome? Amazing leadership was shown! As the activity progressed it was clear that for this group, team success was more important than individual success. The participants learned that they did not have to sacrifice their own needs for their team to complete its task. Of course, they had a snack and got to hang out with their friends, but the youth-directed learning took precedence!
In our youth leadership programs, we encourage our kids to collaborate with one another and to understand the importance of applying that skill to relationships with others. That collaboration doesn’t happen without respect and good communication. These are vital 21st-century skills. Having a safe space to practice these new skills in our new west end programs is just one way that Moorelands Kids is growing to meet Toronto’s needs.