March Break Camp Reality 2017

The St. James Town Youth Council is a group of young leaders living in Toronto’s St. James Town neighbourhood. We have come together to connect, inspire, and empower other youth in the community to realize their full potential, both personally and in their community. We achieve this by various means that include: hosting and supporting local community events, meeting regularly to address issues in St. James Town, advocating on behalf of youth, providing youth with unique opportunities, as well as exploring youth-focused initiatives. With this goal in mind, we have planned an initiative during the 2017 March Break called ‘Camp Reality’, a career based camp to introduce the youth of St. James Town to a variety of careers and post-secondary options.

Camp Reality Report – 2016

Our first day was University Day, where we traveled to two universities outside Toronto, McMaster and University of Guelph. We were given an in-depth tour of the campuses. They went from talking about the different areas for the various programs to the meal plans, so there was a lot of talking and a lot of walking because the campuses were so big. This let our youth brainstorm on what courses or universities they may want to go to in the near future.

The second day was Media Day, where we got an inside look in the CTV building, as well as learning about how the broadcasting industry works and how it’s technically managed.  The participants were amazed by the professionalism and work that goes into the news reporting industry. We even got to listen to the staff talk about the celebrities they met, which impressed us. Many of the camp participants realized that it is a great career and a lot of fame. Our leaders arranged a tour and workshop at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health. This visit let our participants learn more about the area of mental health and addiction, job pportunities in this sector, research projects and the multidisciplinary team approach. It was also a very long, great day!

Our third day was the Business Day, where we go to BMW and learn about the automobile industry, opportunities, and their corporate work environment. We learned about marketing, business, and sales, and we got to explore for a bit and see the advanced cars, which got our participants excited. What was even more exciting was the test drives the participants went on one by one. After a good lunch break, we headed off to MaRs, which is a non-profit corporation that creates a platform for social innovation, entrepreneurship and research. We were given a presentation about social innovation and design thinking. This got our members to learn a bit about nurturing business ideas and what qualities to have to be a business woman/man.

Our very last day was pretty sad because March break camp was coming to an end. Our members got up bright and early, since they were excited to go to Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute and Keenan Research Center at St. Michael’s Hospital. We were provided a great breakfast and we were given a wonderful presentation about how the art of curiosity ended up with some great research finding, and how those findings significantly changed cancer treatment.  After, we were given a tour around the different areas in the center. We got to see where they test out cells and we were given an in-depth tour on where they keep their research subjects. We were given an inside look of research labs of fish and we also got to see newborn ones, which we were surprised to see how fish stem cells have the potential for self-renewal and differentiation. The best part about the tour was doing a medical examination on a mannequin that responded to us like a human would. The members got hands-on experience of medical examination of an accident-patient and were keen on learning about the procedure. They acted like real medical professionals, it was a challenge for us and when we were done, it was an accomplishment for us.

The Camp Reality participants were high school students from Toronto’s St. James Town neighbourhood. Our goal was to make our youth open-minded and alert on what are some of the great careers existing around us. We made sure that they had fun at the same time as there was some takeaways. This experience would be a significant factor when they really choose their career, and St. James Town Youth Council believes we did accomplish our goal.

We would like to thank The Leacock Foundation and The Yonge Street Mission for making this camp happen for us, it is the story of youth-led community transformation. We appreciate all the council members for their hard work throughout this project.

 Prepared by: Arya Siwakoti, Secretary – St. James Town  Youth Council

Camp Reality 2017

Youth Mental Health AND Shisha/Hookah Smoking

St. James Town Youth Council in partnership with Toronto Public Health and Sherbourne Health Centre  presenting “The Investment in Youth Engagement Project” This project focuses on youth mental health and the prevalence of smoking among youth living in St. James Town. The project includes a number of youth empowering activities and advocacy pieces. Through this project youth from the St. James Town Youth Council build their capacity to raise awareness about mental health and substance use as well as the harmful health effects of tobacco smoke (through shisha smoking).  Youth from the Youth Council receive training from Sherbourne Health Centre’s Newcomer Health Team on mental health, Turning Point youth services and The Yonge Street Mission. The training will include the topics like substance use and addictions, where to get support, how youth can speak this issue to others etc. A core project team is created from the Youth Council consist of 6 Youth Ambassadors. This project has two focus areas in the activity part to attract other youth in the community. (I) The youth ambassadors will organize “speaking engagements” at (a) Existing youth-focused groups and events in the community (b) the ambassadors will organize their own youth meetings through direct outreach at schools and the community.  (II) Other Youth Council members will organize a poster-making campaign that addresses both mental health and harmful health affects of tobacco smoke. In addition, the youth will organize a youth symposium.

Ask your questions to your youth leaders

Youth Ambassadors for the project

1.      Suzanna Maharaj – Project Lead

2.      Poonam Das  – Project Lead

3.      Yousuf Ahmed – Youth Ambassador


4.      Avash Neupane -– Youth Ambassador

5.      Kubenthiran Suganthan – Youth Ambassador

6.      Zoya Ahmed – Poster Making Lead

7.      Hedia Omar –  Youth Ambassador


Anish Alex  

Community Capacity Builder

Project Coordinator
Community Capacity Builder
The Yonge Street Mission
C: 416-209-2879

Sehr Athar
Health Promotion and Systems Specialist
Newcomer Health Team – Sherbourne Health Centre
333 Sherbourne St., Toronto, ON, M5A 2S5
(T) 416-324-4100 Ext. 5259

St. James Town Youth Council Video

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