Special Event: Celebration of Success 2013

Celebration of Success 2013

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The University of Toronto’s Hart House

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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.

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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.

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The performances get the guests up and moving

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One of the Media Team’s videos

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

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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.

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Peter Ranson

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Shawn Burgess

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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.

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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.

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Keenon Peterson and Jaeson Villanueva run the photo booth

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The media team hard at work

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Mingling on the patio

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The photo booth

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Students consider their future

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A guide to the celebration can be found here:

Celebration Program (2)

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.

Special Event: ProPeace In Our Community

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The Pro Peace in Our Community event was created to spread the message of stopping violence around the world, starting in our communities and schools. Guest speakers from different organizations such as RISE (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) were in attendance.

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Randell Adjei, one of the guest speakers, shared his intriguing story with the audience, as well as giving them a dose of one of his many talents, spoken word. He encouraged the kids to follow their dreams, and to not be afraid to ask questions.

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The kids of Blessed Mother Teresa then came together in groups to explain what peace should look like in their communities. They showcased their group work in visual arts, acting, poetry, and storytelling.

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The students came away with knowledge of the roots and cause of gun violence, and how to prevent it.

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