The “Focus on Youth” program is a partnership between the Ontario Government, school boards, and local community agencies, providing summer programs for students in recognized high needs urban neighbourhoods, as well as employment opportunities and leadership training for youth. Focus on Youth supports the use of TCDSB school space and the employment of TCDSB students by non-profit community organizations participating in the program, and school space was offered to 87 community groups in 58 schools.
Established in 2007, the program is a part of the board’s plan to promote learning through play, healthy lifestyle and positive self images for children and youth, and have a positive impact on student achievement and well-being during the school year. In 2013, 261 students were hired as part of the program. Between the 11 Centres, we hired 218 recreational staff, 33 custodial staff, 10 administrators, and 10 media team members. Students have the chance to act as leaders, advocates, mentors, and change agents, fulfilling the program’s slogan, “The Journey Never Ends.”
261 high school students were hired to participate in a leadership program.
216 students worked as camp counselors with various organizations for six weeks.
37 students were hired to perform custodial work in schools during the summer program for a period of seven weeks.
For the first year we hired a new media team (8 students) to document the Focus on Youth program in action. They visited sites, made presentations, and wrote blog post to capture the Focus on Youth experience.
School space was offered to 85 community groups.
Not-for-profit organizations delivered summer activities to youth all ages.
On May 30, 2007, the Ministry of Education considered a joint proposal submitted by the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to support recreational and learning opportunities for children and youth in several of the urban inner city neighbourhoods of Toronto, during July and August 2007. The program was titled the Focus on Youth (FOY) Program.
The overall objective of the FOY 2013 program is for the TCDSB to be the enhancement of high quality summer program opportunities for children and youth in Toronto’s urban inner city areas by offering free use of school space for organized community based programs, and by providing employment opportunities and leadership activities for the youth of these communities.
After seven summers of the program, we have determined that this program has continued to promote learning through play, healthy lifestyle and positive self images for children and youth of these communities, and we believe that it will have a positive impact on student achievement and well being during the school year.
S T A T I S T I C S
863 students applied to be a part of the program this year. 261 high school students were hired to participate in the Focus on Youth Program
218 students worked as camp counsellors with various organizations for six weeks 33 students were hired to perform custodial work in schools during the summer program for a period of seven weeks
10 students were hired to be a part of a media team in charge of documenting the work being done in the community groups
Students received a leadership and coop credit while completing their job placements
Training of FOY employees included: a leadership training weekend at camp Olympia through various workshops, First Aid, CPR, Health and Safety/WHMIS and Financial Literacy
17 teachers were hired to administer credits to student employees. Three additional teachers were then hired after to monitor newly hired students
School space was offered to 87 community groups in 58 Schools
Not-for-profit organizations delivered summer activities to youth all ages The Focus On Youth program helps to develop students’ skills and keeps them safe during the summer months
THE COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS
The number of high school students hired by the TCDSB was a little higher than last year. 87 organizations in 58 schools participated this year. This number grew from being 77 last year in 58 schools, which is a 13% increase. In 2007, when it first started, there were 40 organizations in the program which is more than 50% increase. These Community organizations host different types of programs for youth including: mentorship, sports, arts, academic, drama, music, dance, etc.
The Focus on Youth workers had to go through various stages to get the job. After submitting their applications to their designated teacher, the FOY leaders had to go through a new hiring process that the TCDSB’s FOY program implemented this year called the “Carousel”. This new idea is a more interactive approach to hiring students. It is a modern and interactive interview process, designed to help teachers and staff to select suitable leaders to be the camp counselors for the summer. The process involved a variety of tasks and activities given to the students to demonstrate their leadership skills while being on the job. It was a good way to test potential leaders, and allowed teachers to see the students in action before hiring them.
Two hundred and sixty-one students were hired by the TCDSB to work for the program. This was a much higher number than last year which was 206, more than 20% increase and 63% increase from 2007 when it initially started. The huge 20% increase this year was due to additional funding granted by the ministry, who has been the biggest supporter of the program. Two hundred eighteen students were hired as camp counselors with different community agencies in leadership positions, thirtythree students were hired to perform maintenance functions in schools, and ten students were hired to be part of a media team for the program to document the work being done in the community groups.
The students who got hired had to go through different types of preemployment training. The main one was the Focus on Youth weekend leadership training at Camp Olympia. During the weekend, the students participated in a rotation of four different workshops and Large Group Games. This included the Coaching workshop, where the goal of this activity was to educate Focus on Youth students on effectively leading games, giving clear instructions, and catching the camper’s attention. There was an Arts and Crafts workshop, to give employees ideas of different activities they can offer to campers; Low-organized games, which aim to provide Focus on Youth students with activities to use during down time with the campers; and the Positive Discipline workshop, which helped the employees learn how to solve situations and misbehavior in a positive manner. The FOY employees also got to listen to a motivational talk by Mike Consul, and there was also the 7 Habits Workshop done by Mike Consul and Greg Rogers. The students then ended their weekend with a FOY Talent Show.
For all students, the FOY program training also involved topics such as workplace health and safety, healthy child development and customer service. They received WHMIS training from the TCDSB Health and Safety staff. They also received certificates for successfully passing the First Aid and CPR courses, which will be valid for the next year. However, this year, a Financial Literacy session was held as part of the pre-employment training, which aimed to provide tips for the employees to learn how to save money.
More information about Focus on Youth can be found here: