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

IMG_0971 IMG_0981 IMG_0976 IMG_1003 IMG_0990 IMG_0967 IMG_0985 DSCN0318

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.

Profile: Heart Beatz


Heart Beatz provides camp, day camp, and youth program services to residents from the McCowan to Kingston areas. Their target age group is 2 1/2 to 12 years old. The centre operates from 7am-6pm.


Focus On Youth student Kevin Villafuerte playing cards with some of the children.

The organization began as a community centre over 30 years ago in a basement of a church and has flourished  into a child care and camp facility.

Prekshya Pandey teaches children to make friendship bracelets.

Heart Beatz‘ mission statement is  “to provide services and activities in response to the changing needs and interests of the Cliffcrest community on a non-segregated and non-political basis.”


They highly value respect, well-being and integrity through shared relationships.

This year, a broadway musical performance will take place at the AGM, where parents hold a meeting and come together. In preparation for this concert, a performer visits the camp every Friday from the beginning of July to August 23rd, to help the children prepare. The costumes and props are taken care of by the children themselves.


Campers have a mini computer in the room

The campers also have excursions to Casa Loma, Black Creek Pioneer Village and High Park.


Stretch stretch stretch! Participants copy the dance instructor for warm-ups.


Kevin Villafuerte doing warm-ups with the campers.

At the Cliffcrest Community Centre, it is their first year having Focus On Youth employees and are said to be always “busy and active with the kids.”


Focus On Youth student Prekshya Pandey helps a camper with arts and crafts.


From wall to ceiling! Arts and Crafts everywhere!



Some of the artwork the children made outdoors.



Who knew you can knit with only your hands and yarn alone?! These kids are talented!
Focus On Youth student, Eullyssa Lazado gets all crafty!


A finished product by one of the campers. Impressive!


Here’s what we’ve knitted so far!



Organization:  Heart Beatz

Location(s):  2938 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto, ON M1J 2E4

Ages:  2 and a half to 12 years old

Dates / Times:  7AM-6PM

Website: http://www.heartbeatz.ca/

Contact Info:

Phone: 416-267-6293 x223

Fax: 416-267-6932

Email: daycarecliffcrest@bellnet.ca

Profile: Scarborough Basketball Association



The Scarborough Basketball Association formed in 1996 with the goal of providing youth of the Scarborough area with opportunities to grow and enjoy life, using basketball. The SBA could even serve as the beginning of someone’s successful professional basketball career. But the organization is mostly interested in character-building, friendships, and fun through providing people with coaching, volunteer, and career opportunities.



The SBA’s program is for children and youth ages 4-19, and teaches them life skills while they learn basketball, as well as how to help both their community, and themselves.


The SBA location at Jean Vanier takes part in trips to Kidstown (a water park) , and Variety Village, where they play wheelchair basketball. Thompson Park is their next destination.









Naresh Sritharan, Mark Zaragoza, Kevin Ekofo, Leroy D’Souza, and Alex Mulego come together for a family photo.

Organization: Scarborough Basketball Association
Locations: Jean Vanier, 959 Midland Ave.
Age: 4-19
Contact Info: 416.551.7554
Website: http://www.sbabasketball.ca

Profile: Boys & Girls club of East Scarborough



The Boys and Girls Club of East Scarborough has grown over the years, and now extends throughout Toronto from the East end to the West end. They are a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada (BGCC). Their goal is to support the healthy physical, educational, and social development of youth and families in Canada


FOY staff getting ready for another fun game with the kids

Their main focus is youth, and they work with groups of all ages, with camps for kids ages 6-12 to 18-24. They work to give kids a fun and enjoyable summer, as well as to help the older kids prepare for High School.


Our future bakers mashing bananas for their delicious banana muffins!

Our future bakers mashing bananas for their delicious banana muffins!


Every year they have what is called “Unity Day,” where all the clubs in Toronto meet up and go on a special trip together.

Counsellors and campers playing Zip! Zap! Zop!

Counsellors and campers playing Zip! Zap! Zop!


And we have a winner!




FOY staff: Sylvia Liao, Joyanne Dela Luna, Anna Mae Villagarcia


Organization: Boys and Girls Club of East Toronto

Location(s): St. Thomas More Catholic Elementary School, 2300 Elesmere Road

Ages: All ages

Dates/Times: 6 weeks in the summer

Website: www.esbgc.org/

Contact Info:

Telephone: (416) 281-0262

Fax: (416) 281-0458

Notes: Go to their website for more information.

Profile: WoodGreen Community Services

Main Website


Focus on Youth staff


Fast break!

WoodGreen Community Services is based in east Toronto, and provides support and assistance to all ages. The organization started as a volunteer-based during the Great Depression, and they are now celebrating their 75th year, still helping to build a better community.



WoodGreen Community Services runs programs ranging from childcare to senior assistance. They help out by giving free workshops on social networking, fashion, yoga, business, and even making an app. The youth program plays sports several times a week, and teach skills that can be applied to real life as well.




WoodGreen Community Services enhances self-sufficiency, promotes well-being and reduces poverty through innovative solutions to critical social needs.










Organization: Tropicana Community Services

Location(s): 815 Danforth Ave, Suite 100

Ages: Childcare to senior


Youth: 6 weeks in the summer

All ages: Throughout the whole year.

Website: http://www.woodgreen.org/Home.aspx

Contact Info:

Telephone: 416-645-6000

Notes: To apply, or for more information, go to their website.