Hoop 2 Hope

In a political climate where scarcity is often assumed, and in a community that is often unfairly characterized by needs and problems, the real assets of a community can often get overlooked.

One of those incredible community assets in the Jane Finch area is the work of Benjamin Osei and the Hoop 2 Hope boys’ basketball program.

Hoop 2 Hope has two divisions; one for high school boys and the other for elementary and middle school students. The high school boys gather on Fridays from 6pm to 10pm at Westview Secondary School south gym, and the younger group meets Saturdays 6pm to 9pm at Oakdale Community Centre. These programs run from September through June.

There is plenty of basketball at each meeting, but the program’s goal is to walk with boys in their journey to becoming men. To do that, the program includes the services of many volunteers. These volunteers are older men who are further on in the journey of life and have a wealth of experience and knowledge. The idea is for men to walk with boys through the most formative years of their lives.

The boys who participate come to play ball, and they get to do a lot of that, but the leaders also take time to help them develop some skills that will help them navigate their everyday world. The leaders talk with boys about developing their character in real life situations. Boys are finding different ways to respond to difficult circumstances. They learn how wisdom, perseverance, self control, compassion, gentleness and other values can make them better persons and how that will make the world a better place.  

All of this basketball and conversation culminates in an annual rite of passage celebration. The boys’ chronological development is acknowledged and celebrated at ages 13 and 18. Instead of stumbling or falling into manhood, the boys and the community around them stop, recognize, and celebrate their movement from a boy to a man.

Hoop 2 Hope knows that it is just one piece of each boy’s life. The program actively seeks to partner with families, schools and community centres. So beyond the doors of the gym, leaders like Benjamin are at work with young men as they make their way from boys to men.

Benjamin and Hoop 2 Hope are one of this community’s finest assets. They are an asset that is producing real capital, the next generation of community and world leaders.

Canada’s new modern Food Guide: No more rainbows!

Say goodbye to rainbows, food groups and recommended servings on a chart; the newly revamped food guide is simple and easy to follow – it’s a plate with real food!

The first part of the guide is about practical food choices. It encourages Canadians to lower their saturated fat and increase fibre intake by eating plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and plant-based sources of protein such as beans, lentils, nuts, and tofu.  

By learning to read labels, you can limit highly processed foods high in sodium and sugars.  Instead of juice, make water your drink of choice and choose whole fruits for more fibre and less sugar. Make meals interesting by including breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner recipes featured on food-guide.canada.ca such as apple pie oatmeal, green frittatas, fruit and yogurt granola parfait, quinoa salad, turkey chilli, soups, stews and culture-specific choices.

It doesn’t stop there! The new guide takes it a step further to address the many other factors that influence our nutrition and food choices. Healthy eating is more than the foods we eat. It is also about where, when, why, how we eat as well as who we eat with.

In our fast-paced society, it reminds us to be “mindful” by taking time to eat, enjoying our food and noticing when we are hungry and full.  It also promotes eating meals with others. When families cook and eat together, they develop connections and traditions with children.

The trend towards eating more processed foods and the rise in childhood obesity reminds us that it is more important than ever to cook meals using whole foods while sharing these skills and traditions with children to teach them to adopt healthy lifestyle habits.  

In my nutrition counselling practice, I conduct grocery store tours where individuals learn to compare nutrition labels and find new and healthier favourites. I also further explore “mindful eating”, enjoying and savouring your food, not rushing meals, cooking more often while eating less processed foods and the importance of eating with others.

If you’re looking to incorporate these new guidelines to promote optimal health and well-being, contact ChristineRezkRD@gmail.com for guidance on how doing so can change both your individual lifestyle as well as developing important new habits for you and your family.

Opinion: Ford’s subway takeover will hurt riders in Downsview

In the 2018 Provincial election Ford promised to make sure transit (mostly subways) gets built faster and more efficiently by giving the Provincial Government responsibility over funding of new subway projects and the maintenance of subway lines.

The Province has a much bigger budget and much more capacity than Toronto, so why not accept the deal? Sounds like a win-win, right? Well Doug isn’t giving you the whole story. There are a lot of reasons to doubt this plan.

One is that the commitment to pay for subways contradicts Ford’s 2018 election promise to make deep spending cuts to the Provincial budget. Their solution is to finance this expensive infrastructure by selling or giving away the “air rights” – our public assets – along the subway line to developers.

Ford claims City Council delays important transit decisions, but the reality is that he’s also responsible for delays in building transit. As City Councillors, Doug and Rob Ford delayed building Toronto’s entire LRT network in 2011. That is why our Finch W. LRT has yet to be completed. Based on his record, do we really believe he’ll build transit faster?

He also claims that the Province is more effective and less wasteful than the City, however the Ontario government bears a lot of the blame for our TTC problems. Many subway tunnels have been filled in due to past provincial governments, they have failed to properly fund the TTC and, most recently, they have been in charge of implementing the very problematic Presto Program.

Ontario forced Toronto and other municipalities to adopt the Presto card despite the its enormous – the cost to roll it out was the same as the new 11 km Finch LRT system. It is over-budget, the fares have not been fairly integrated and riders cite glitches using their Presto card. How can we trust the Ontario government to take over our subway when they created many of its problems?

Ford proposes to fund $160 million per year, but TTC needs $16.2 billion over next 15 years – falls $14 billion short of what Toronto needs to maintain the existing subway system. So is he really serious about funding our transit? If he is, the numbers don’t add up.

Based on Ford’s track record at city council, the plan’s major flaws and Ontario’s role in the TTC, the upload doesn’t look promising. So what can us transit riders in Downsview do to make sure that this plan gets shelved?

Fortunately there are strong opponents of Ford’s plan who are raising awareness and pushing back. TTCriders, community organizations and labour groups held a massive day of action on Feb 22nd at 35 subway stations to tell riders about Ford’s plan to take over the subway.

Public pressure works. You are a powerful force and there are many ways to help and make your voice heard. Tell Ford not to steal our subway.

Check out the website for ways to take action and for a list of MPPs, templates, and online petitions: http://www.ttcriders.ca/oursubway/

TTCriders is a grass-roots advocacy group that fights for transit riders to make fares more affordable, expand service and make sure that the TTC is not privatized.