From June to August 17th, PEACH (Promoting Education and Community Health) continued to find ways to keep youth focused and motivated-outside of school. The Learning Beyond Adversity (LBA) Summer Employment Program was initially started by Executive Director Shari Castello and Youth Advocate Wayne Black as a way to keep youth engaged and productive over the summer months. Eight young members from the Jane and Finch community had the opportunity to work alongside one another performing tasks that enabled them to expand their knowledge and learn how to work cooperatively as a group.
PEACH partnered with Black Creek Community Farm’s MwanaJuma and planned activities. The summer participants gardened and worked with plants like callaloo and peppermint and cooked nutritious vegan meals such as vegan lasagna and fruit smoothies. Castello and Black realized how important bridging the gap between youth and the elderly was and so the youth teamed up with the seniors at Black Creek Community Farm and learned how to cook meals like popular Jamaican dish, Ackee.
The program also offered workshops on Financial Literacy, Resume and Job Workshops, Stress Management, Media, and even the process of getting your G1 Driver’s License! The youth were also taken to the Knowledge Bookstore to purchase books, and were given a lesson on how to start their own business and was needed to succeed.
Jordan Thomas, 18, says his experience at LBA Summer Employment was definitely worthwhile/ “I found this program very enjoyable,” Thomas says. “For me it was nice to make decisions about different topics like why it’s important to get your G1 or how to maintain proper hygiene, and how to find a job.”
The recent height of violence in Toronto has shown the importance of initiatives like the LBA Summer Employment and the importance to fund these programs. Not only do these programs keep youth off the streets, but they provide youth with a sense of belongingness, mentorship, accountability, and of course, the knowledge they need to move forward and succeed in their future.