About The Program

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.


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 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.


See: Administration | Central Team

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:


Profile: Custodial Positions


The Assistant Custodial position began along with Focus On Youth itself. 40 positions were created to help TCDSB custodians with their heavy workloads during the summer.


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An assistant custodian’s responsibilities are the light work of TCDSB custodians. As one of the custodians said, “They give us an extra pair of hands that makes us another step ahead, all those little things that they do for us add up to be a big help”

This job has helped students prepare for the real world. They will become more punctual, responsible, and more social. They will also learn that being in the industry is not as easy as it looks. They are given an opportunity to literally step in the shoes of the hard working custodians.


Custodian student Gerald



Custodian student: Ivyrose and Custodian: Tom




Special Event: Celebration of Success 2013

Celebration of Success 2013


The University of Toronto’s Hart House


After a long six weeks, Focus on Youth’s 2013 summer program came to an end. To mark the occasion, staff and counselors were invited to a special Celebration of Success at the University of Toronto’s Hart House.




Christina Martin and Stefan Brum, the evening’s hosts

Stefan Brum and Christina Martin served as the evening’s MCs, keeping things light. The counselors listened to speeches from their peers, and staff like Angela Gauthier, Director of Education. The audience was also treated to a first look at the special promotional videos created by the Media Team. After a series of student performances, the guests were treated to a delicious buffet lunch, courtesy of Hart House.




The performances get the guests up and moving


One of the Media Team’s videos


The Media Team leads the crowd in the Wavin’ Flag dance


After lunch, the main speakers of the evening took the stage. First, teacher Peter Ranson spoke about how he got involved in Focus on Youth, and what it meant to him. Then, Shawn Burgess of the St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club talked about working with the Focus on Youth Student Counselors, and how it was an excellent experience. Finally, Orlando Bowen, Executive Director of the One Voice One Team Youth Leadership Organization, took the stage to tell a spellbound audience about his experiences with overcoming adversity, and becoming a better person because of it.


Peter Ranson


Shawn Burgess


Orlando Bowen

Afterwards, guests were treated to a special slide and video show by the Media Team, documenting their long journey throughout the program, before Program Coordinator Andre Fullerton came up to thank the staff and counselor, and give special mention to fellow coordinators and all-around problem solvers Janelle Curtis and Ashisha Persaud.


Janelle Curtis and Ashisia Persaud get special recognition from Andre Fullerton

With the ceremonies concluded, guests were invited out onto the patio to dance, grab some cake, take some fancy (or silly) photos at the Media Team’s photo booth, and get some info on their upcoming post-secondary education from booths set up by local universities.


Keenon Peterson and Jaeson Villanueva run the photo booth


The media team hard at work


Mingling on the patio


The photo booth



Students consider their future


A guide to the celebration can be found here:

Celebration Program (2)

Profile: Champs Mentoring Champs


Champs Mentoring Champs began as a  homework club in 2007 for children ages 4-11, with only 11 children. The following year they applied with the Focus On Youth program in hopes of expanding this initiative. Their first camp started at Blessed Mother Teresa with 25 children, and has since increased to more than 265 participants aged 4-17 within the year.


The main goal of “Champs Mentoring Champs”  is to allow youth to develop leadership and interpersonal skills that will be necessary in overcoming any life challenges. They hire employees from the following organizations: Focus On Youth, Tropicana, and Service Canada’s Summer Jobs. When kids turn 14 they have the opportunity to volunteer with the program and eventually apply as a camp counselor at the age of 16.  Ultimately, they want the youth to have a positive and memorable experience.


The youth are able to play sports and enjoy other various physical activities, while building relationships among their peers and counselors. As a result, the participants and staff have gained something invaluable.




Organization: Champs Mentoring Champs

Location: 2103-250 Brenyon Way, Scarborough ON, M1B 3G3

Ages: 4-17

Date/Times: 6 weeks in the summer

Contact info: Daunette Jackson

(647) 622 7984


Special Event: Caribana Launch

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This year marked the 46th annual Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival in Toronto, formerly know as Caribana. The kick-off event was hosted by the Toronto Police Services on Thursday, July 25th. The Service has had a float in the parade since 1991, and this year the theme was “Diversity in Motion.” Hundreds of campers from the Footsteps to Success program attended this event. It began with a live steel pan performance of songs like Bruno Mars’s “Just the Way You Are,” and Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” to which everyone in the room sang along to. There was also a  performance by a Juno award winning artist, and notable speakers such as:  Chief William Blair took the stage. After the speakers, women in gorgeous colourful, costumes adorned with feathers and face paint walked down the main stairs in the lobby and got everyone up on their feet – including Chief Blair and the other policemen! The campers then headed outside to continue the festivities. The rest of the day was filled with lots of music, singing, dancing, and authentic Caribbean food! Campers climbed onto the float as the ribbon was cut, signifying the official opening of Caribana.  In addition, the radio station 98.7 FM set up a tent with a DJ playing music that had everyone dancing. Overall the event was a huge success, enjoyed by many.

Focus On Youth Promo #5

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By:Jaeson Villanueva and JP Polvorosa

Focus on Youth Promo #3

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By Adrian Camara and Khris Persaud