Registration Open for Community Action Projects!

Register now for Community Action Projects beginning in Fall 2016!

To learn about people’s experiences in these programs, search for the title of the program you are interested in and you will see many “Student Voice” posts from current participants!

On Your Mark 

OYM is a mentoring and tutoring program for elementary and high school students of Portuguese or Spanish speaking descent who are struggling to achieve the curriculum requirements. You will be paired with a student or small group.

Homework Club

Volunteer at the Toronto Public Library Mt. Dennis Branch and work with elementary aged students on their academic success!

From 3 to 3 

Sign-up to volunteer for an 8 week session starting Fall 2016! You will be placed in a kindergarten classroom where you will read to small groups of students.

TDSB Tutors

Be an academic tutor for high schoolers! You will be placed in a high school and will provide one-on-one or small group academic support.

TDSB Math Tutors

Be a math tutor for high schoolers! You will be placed in a high school and will provide one-on-one or small group academic support.

SciHigh Volunteer

The SciHigh program was developed by Mount Sinai in 1997 to promote science to students throughout Toronto. The goal of the program is to show students how cool science can be and to encourage students to be curious. SciHigh is looking for students that would like to share their enthusiasm and love of science. Volunteers will be traveling to locations throughout the city to give presentations to students from Kindergarten to grade 12.

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Student Voices: From 3 to 3

By Shaghayegh Khodaei

I was a From3to3 tutor at a TDSB kindergarten for the fall semester 2015-2016.

I went to the school for a half day in the morning for 8 weeks and I read story books to small groups of children. In a nutshell, the program was absolutely great for me. It was fun, interesting, exciting and at the same time sometimes boring, tiring and stressful. I am very happy I participated in the program – It helped me contribute to something I valued and made me learn a ton of things that I did not expect.

 

I saw a From 3 to 3 poster on one of the university’s bulletin boards and it said that they were looking for volunteers to read story books to children; the idea was that with the one-on-one interaction with kids, they would get individual attention, learn social skills and build their confidence.

I thought “oh, wow! This is great! This is a wonderful opportunity for me to help people and contribute to my community! And kids?! Helping kids is just great!! Maybe this will help me find out if I want to work with kids or work in education for a career – as opposed to my computer science career!”

At the same time, the program intimidated me. Can I do it? Is this going to take a lot of my time? Will I be good at it?

 

I signed up! 😀

 

The program began with a training session for all volunteers. This was one of the best trainings I had ever received. The training was very much towards how to interact with the child and make them feel comfortable. There was a lot of emphasis on accepting the child’s response to a question with a warm attitude and letting them speak even if they made a lot of mistakes. This all was meant to give confidence to the kids and encourage participation and active response.

But the training wasn’t great just because of the information and knowledge that I was receiving. It was also because I felt very very supported.

I thought :“Wow. How much I wish I had received and felt the same support while I was doing my full time undergraduate studies!!”

 

My first day at the school was quite interesting.

The way this program works, is that we pick groups of 3 to 4 kids, take them to a quiet place, read a book to them and then ask questions to engage and help them understand the material. When we are done, we take them back to their teacher and pick the next group.

 

My highlight for my first day was this:

At the school I went to, at 9:30 (about half an hour after I started reading), the kids had their physical activity time where they would go out and play.

I went along with them. I tried to observe them to get a better understanding of these kids: to try to understand who is shy, who has a lot of friends, who doesn’t have friends, who seems happy and who seems disturbed, which kid does what activity, and if anybody is being picked on. At the same time, I also tried to engage with them and have them be more comfortable with me.

All of a sudden, a kid came towards me, held my hand and pulled me to show me the garbage truck.

I was so touched by that! I hadn’t even read to this particular kid yet! Yet he totally came, grabbed my hand, and started telling me about the garbage truck and what it was doing.

“Wow! How this was so new to me. So easy, so effortless, just like that.” 🙂

 

I don’t want to talk about the details of how each day was, but after my first day when it was lunch time and time for me to leave, I was so exhausted. This had made me more tired than I had expected. I suppose I was tired because of how hard I tried.

My idea was that the kids would be very interested to hear the story and would pay attention! That I would feel I have taught each and every one of them something! That all of them will be so excited and enthusiastic about the stories! That I will be able to control how they learn!

Perhaps that was my mentality because of my computer science background. As if unwittingly, I had the idea that I could control things as though things worked according to some well-defined and correct computer program. Of course, that was a bit naïve of me to think that way.

As I went to school more and more, I learned not to expect an ideal, perfect situation I had in my mind. I learned to be more fluid, not force things too hard and let the kids be.

I learned how much kids can be different from each other. From an early age, some are shy while some naturally made so many friends. Some were more cautious and timid while some were more outspoken. Some showed less regard for others’ feelings, while some were more considerate. And how some of them seemed to have deep feelings from such a young age!

 

I saw how some kids would get scared and nervous when the teacher was scolding ‘another’ child for inappropriate behaviour; while interestingly, the kid who was being scolded didn’t seem to care. The teacher, in effect was scaring somebody else off and not who they intended to.

 

I saw how it was almost impossible for me to give everybody equal attention and be fair to kids. When a certain child is too assertive and demands a lot of attention, it is extremely difficult to maintain a balance between the needs of this child and the needs of another shy kid. What usually ends up happening is that they do take more of your time. This was a lesson for me to be learned. Especially as I always thought I would try my hardest to be fair to everyone: I simply couldn’t always do that.

 

I saw how certain kids would scold other kids for “not knowing how to throw the ball”, while they themselves were faulty of the same flaw. I could see that neither of the kids were good at throwing and catching the ball. But one scolded the other while the other one felt very defeated.

You could say that I learned that I should stand up for myself more.

 

I loved the physical activity time because I could be one of the kids. Because I could observe them and see how they were. How they fought with each other when they didn’t get along. What their thought process was. It was so cute and amazing.

 

I also loved some of their responses to the questions I asked at the end of any story.

How deep, unique and beautiful some of the children’s answers were.

 

In short, I loved the experience.

I learned far more than what I had imagined, I learned and saw things I didn’t think I would learn. It allowed me to experience things I hadn’t experienced before and that in itself is wonderful.

Let’s Talk Toronto: Beyond Voting

By Jennifer Kou

Let’s Talk Toronto is a discussion series focusing on topical issues and current events. Bringing together students and members from the Toronto community, Let’s Talk Toronto strives to provoke thoughtful discussions and inspire action. With the federal elections so close behind us, we thought it’d be a good idea to get away from partisan debates and focus more on the core of an active democracy – civic engagement.

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There is so much we can do beyond simply voting to create impactful change. We reached out to interested community leaders from different sites of dynamic participation to ground the idea of civic engagement in real world experience. Our speakers included: Shilbee Kim from the Centre for Social Innovation, José Ramón Martí from Samara Canada, and Ric Amis from the Parkdale Residents Association

My favourite part of the discussion was when everyone shared their concerns and issues that they hoped to see change. Topics ranged from tuition to poverty to cyber harassment. Faced with such imposing issues, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. After all, what can one person do? But once we broke down those grand issues into bite sized pieces, it seemed much easier to take action. Instead of asking: “how can this possibly be solved?”, we asked: “what can I do today?”

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You could write a letter of positivity and encouragement to someone dealing with cyber harassment. You could attend a rally for tuition decreases. You could donate a can of food instead of drinking a can of coke. This discussion taught me that while the issues are challenging and unlikely to be solved in one sweeping gesture, we are not helpless. One small gesture may not result in solving world hunger but it will help one person sleep with a full belly. Real change is not over night. It is the slow building of millions of kind gestures.

So ask yourself: “what can I do today?”

Student Voices: From 3 to 3

Hello!

My name is Fernanda, and I am a fourth year English, linguistics, and classical civilizations student at the University of Toronto. Last semester, I had the privilege of being a From 3 to 3 volunteer who was in charge of reading pre selected literature to groups of Kindergarten children once a week for three hours. Initially, I became interested in volunteering at the CCP because I wanted to gain teaching experience in an elementary school classroom to support my development towards becoming a special education teacher.

What I loved about the CCP was that they had many opportunities to choose from that would allow me to get involved in the community. They have programs for volunteering with a range of age groups, and are very flexible in terms of scheduling and commitment duration. Also, the staff are very friendly! They were always willing to help if you had any questions or needed support during the experience. I have always enjoyed volunteering, so it was great to know that there was a place at the university where I could engage in my community.

During my experience, I especially enjoyed the orientation day. I appreciated how we were so well prepared for the position, how we got to meet individuals who were beginning a similar experience, and how we were taught about intercultural learning. Because of my experience, I have a new interest in helping children who come to Canada as English second language learners. During the semester, I would arrive at the school and help the teachers with step up, as well as welcome the kids into the classroom. It was interesting to see how the teacher managed the kids, and what strategies she used to teach them. As she taught the class, I would take a small group of kids to part of the classroom to begin reading. The experience gave me a new appreciation for reading, especially since it was very rewarding to see the kids engaging in the stories. After I read the stories, my favorite part was interacting with the kids, asking their opinions about the stories, and listening to their ideas. I realized just how much I love being in the classroom.

Overall, the experience was one of my favorite parts of the term. I would highly recommend participating in From 3 to 3, or in any other of the CCP programs to gain some insights about the work that you would like to do in the future, to build positive relationships, and develop practical skills such as communication and team work.