The League of Lady Wrestlers

By Aubyn O’Grady

With support from the University of Toronto Centre for Community Partnerships Community-Engaged Initiative Grant, The League of Lady Wrestlers (LOLW) founder Big Jody Mufferaw(AubynO’Grady) along with three other wrestlers: SHREEEEKA, The Stinker, and Helga Hysteria, visited the GLOW club on February 24, 2016 at the Rosedale Day School to present a wrestling character workshop. The GLOW (Girls Living Out Wellness) Club is an after-school program that allows for female students at the Rosedale Day school to participate in activity-based programming such as yoga and fitness classes. The LOLW was connected with the Glow Club by TennielleSuckow, a teacher at Rosedale Day school and facilitator of the Club.

We started by introducing the LOLW and our own wrestling characters and presenting a slideshow of some of our other LOLW wrestlers. We also included photos of historical women wrestlers from other leagues, particularly those with flashy costumes to draw inspiration from.

After looking at other inspiration wrestlers, it was time to work and our own, and the LOLW wrestlers split the GLOW girls into small groups to fill out our LOLW character worksheets (included). Each GLDSC_0369OW girl decided her character’s name, backstory, and signature moves. After we had all completed our character worksheets, we shared our new wrestlers with the group.

With support from the Community Engaged Initiatives Grant, we were able to purchase fabric which Aubynsewed into an assortment of arm and head bands, and capes (modeled in the style of the WWF wrestler, the Ultimate Warrior). The tickle trunk included masks and a variety of other props. We were also able to purchase face painting supplies and, importantly, costume glitter, and we set up a make-up stand where the half lizard, half wrestlers and the tiger girls were able to perfect their looks.

Once everyone had outfitted their character with a costume, the group learned how to make a wrestling entrance with Big Jody Mufferaw. The girls learned how to “work the crowd” according to whether they were a face (a good character) or a heel (a bad character).

We invited parents to attend the “big reveal” we set up coloured lights, a pink golden curtain, a fog machine (Fog machines are an integral part of the LOLW aesthetic, but we decided against using it at the GLOW workshop for fear of setting off the sprinkler system. Big Jody Mufferawplayed the role of the announcer, and announced the name and bio of each new wrestler as she made her grand entrance, to the sound of cheering friends and family. SHREEEEKA set up a camera to capture the moment of the big reveal.

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Our teacher contact, TennielleSuckowhad very positive feedback for the projects saying of the girls, “they rocked it, thanks for opening them up to a new and exciting world!”

We would like to thank the Community Engaged Initiatives Grant for supporting this workshop. With support from the fund, project was a huge success and the LOLW will be continuing our outreach work and programming with other schools.

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#ShowMeYourID and A Crash-Course in Electoral Reform

Join the CCP for two great events over the next few weeks!!

#ShowMeYourID

March 30th from 630-830 at Innis Town Hall, come and join in a night of conversation surrounding the movement to end carding in the City of Toronto.

With four amazing panelists, Akio Maroon, Chair of the Board of Directors at Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, Knia Singh, President and Founder of the Osgoode Society Against Institutional Injustice (OSAII), Caitlyn Kasper, Lawyer with Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, and Alok Mukherjee a Visiting Professor at Ryerson, Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Criminology, former Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board engage in conversations surrounding collective action to address discriminatory policing practices in Toronto.

show me your id

FPTP, RCV, PR, MMP, STV, WTF?

with Dave Meslin

April 7th from 6-8 in the Hart House Music Room join together for a crash course in electoral reform. Join us for an in-depth discussion about how different voting systems affect levels of participation, diversity, inclusiveness and fairness. This is valuable information for anyone who is interested in politics, but also for any organisation that wants to look at their own internal voting system (regional chapters, school councils, etc) and think about how they could increase engagement by reforming their own process.

 

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Student Voices: ARW For Youth Initiative

By Bethany Davis

On February 16th, and until the 18th, I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Alternative Reading Week program at the University of Toronto. My assigned mission was to make an impact on the youth that enjoy spending time at a local community center, by creating a few posters that paid tribute to influential yet underrated African-American figures. This gave us the opportunity to not only celebrate Black History month, but perhaps also help inspire these youths to make a positive change in the world.

Upon arrival to our assigned community center, we were introduced to Melanie, the program director of For Youth Initiative, a not-for-profit organization that take steps in assisting at-risk youth in Toronto. She explained to us that for next three days, we would be making a set of posters featuring influential figures. We were told choose successful Canadian figures who we thought may inspire these at-risk youths to work hard, do the right thing, and achieve greatness. Many of these youth, she explained, do not have the same opportunities that we have, and tend to behave irresponsibly as a result. She also told us that a lot of them tend to have spotty criminal records by the time they reached their early 20s.

After a brief period of organization and deliberation between my team members and I, we decided that we would create a total of 6 posters, featuring individuals who had made an impact in: music, sports, politics, art & culture, drama, and writing. Overall, the process of creating the posters went surprisingly smoothly, and everything seemed to come together with ease. This was due to the fact that not only did my team find it extremely easy to communicate with each other, but also the that our project leaders did not treat us like they were our leaders, but instead worked with us and did their fair share of the work.

The environment was overall very laid back and pleasurable. We went to Subway together everyday for lunch and ate together, using this time as an opportunity to get to know each other better and share common interests. Also, at the end of each day, we would all have a discussion, where we would reflect upon our experiences, our opinions of the project, and things that we enjoyed about working together.

I therefore enjoyed this experience because the environment we worked in was easy-going and not at all stressful. I found it to be very rewarding, and I have every intention of volunteering with ARW again next year. I also may consider becoming a project leader, as this will give me the opportunity to be creative and help design and facilitate a new project, so that I may too help make a difference in the community.

Student Voices: Four years of ARW

By Jenny Luo

Four years ago, when I glanced upon an Alternative Reading Week poster in Con Hall and thought to myself “Hey that sounds cool”, I had no idea how much the letters ARW would mean to me throughout my whole undergraduate career. And now, after my fourth year with ARW I can proudly say that I’m glad I never had a mainstream reading week.

My first project was a conversation circle with newcomers to Canada. In this project, I first experienced the positive energy that flows through ARW and the communities it reaches out to. The newcomers were so eager to learn from us, but more so I felt like we learned from them. Through simple sentences, elaborate gestures, and lots of laughing, we talked about our pasts, our dreams, and bits of randomness such as the experience of child birth… Overall, it was great to see that such services are being provided to newcomers, and to experience a slice of their life.

After the amazing experience of my first project, I came back as a project leader. Then I came back again. And again. I was lucky to have lead three projects that were all highly hands-on and relevant to my interest, and to work with completely different organizations and demographics in each of them. My projects did science demos at kindergartens, designed science activities for teenagers, and hosted food and nutrition workshops for homeless youth. As a science student, I was able to utilize knowledge from the classroom. Whether it be a child’s laugh when they see baking soda and vinegar react, or a heated discussion with homeless youth on which cooking oil is the healthiest, I was happy that my passion for science and health has triggered thoughts in others.

The students and community members I’ve worked with have also taught me so much. Through the projects, I’ve mingled with communities far beyond our little U of T bubble. . The strength and determination of community organizations were truly inspiring. Our teams experienced first-hand how policy making impacts communities. For example, many of the children at the kindergarten we worked at would not be able to attend if it weren’t for government support. Also, the homeless shelter we visited was being taken over by condominium developers, and tremendous fundraising effort was needed to secure a new location. These experiences made us more aware as citizens. Not only awareness of the diversity of Toronto’s communities, but also of the power of citizens. We witnessed how people can come together and improve lives of so many. ARW has definitely inspired me to become a more involved citizen.

It’s been a great four years. Although my journey with ARW is ending upon graduating, the projects, PL meetings, reflection sessions, and lunch time chats have left a deep imprint. ARW has shaped the way I address social and cultural issues and the way I interact with people from different walks of life. Through PL training and the projects, I’ve learned so much about our communities and about myself, and met many amazing people along the way.

Student Voices: ARW 2016

IMG_1585By Charmaine Nyakonda

Arriving in Toronto on the 29th of August 2015 from Zimbabwe I was excited and curious about studying at the University of Toronto. Coming from a community service oriented International Baccalaureate Diploma program at a United World College I was eager to carry on participating in community projects and outreaches. I met Elvis during my Step Up program scavenger hunt at the CCP office and when he told me about Alternative Reading Week; I was already on board and ready to sign up. Surprisingly I met Elvis again during the Woodsworth Frosh Week and he again told me about ARW but I was already sold from the Step Up scavenger hunt.

What made this ARW project special was the fact the 16th of February (the first day of ARW) was my birthday. Every year since my United World College experience I love to do a community service project on my birthday because I believe I wouldn’t be here without the coming together of my community. When my father passed away in 2009 it was thanks to the coming together of the community around us that my family and I managed to pull through, this is why I tend to be community service oriented.

Working with Warden Woods Community Centre was the best experience I ever had. First, I got the opportunity to make new friends from the University of Toronto but also as an international student I finally learnt how to use the SUBWAY! (I actually had not used it since I arrived in August). During our outreach at Warden Woods some of us managed to attend Woburn -Neighborhood Improvement Area Community Service Planning table. It was fascinating because I got to learn hands on how the strategic planning for community projects like building parks and recreational space happens for the people by the people. Carrying out social outreach for the community centre also exposed me to a whole diverse range of people and other organizations and instilled in me an appreciation for what Elvis and his team do. That is, going out there and finding community partners and trying hard to make a difference even when some people choose not to listen or turn them away. It is the effort and will, but most importantly the value of being reflective. Being reflective encompasses thoughtfully considering our world and our own ideas while working towards understanding how our action as not only affect our personal development but the development of people around us too.

I would totally do ARW again not only was it the best way to spend my birthday but it was a great way to take time to appreciate the work that the CCP does and also the many lessons we can obtain from interacting with the community around us. In just three days of participating in ARW I managed to learn a few key concepts in strategic planning, see an application of the concepts I learnt in my Sociology course and most importantly I can’t wait for the 2017 ARW!! I am already waiting for the sign up to start again.

Student Voices: UTM ARW and the CEI Grant

By Darren Clift

Learning and fun… they go together splendidly!

My partner, Hamna Awan, and I, along with six volunteer participants, worked on Board Game Tool Kits during our Alternative Reading Week project. Our community partner, Let’s Get Together, offers students and their parents programs, experiences and opportunities to enrich their education. We didn’t have any community participants, because we worked solely at University of Toronto Mississauga. The founder of Let’s Get Together, Alison Canning, worked with us closely on the project.

These tool kits contain the supplies and resources that grade seven and eight students require to start a board game club in their school. Included in each tool kit are two educational games that have been tested and approved by my project’s group and our community partner. Over three days, the participants designed informational sheets and sample promotional materials that were collected in a binder for students to read and learn from; the participants also assembled the tool kits once all the supplies had been developed, and filmed and edited a short video to introduce the process of creating a board game club.

Our project will have a significant impact on a local school, once the tool kits are delivered. These are the next steps for the project: to contact and then visit a local school so that their club can be set up. Let’s Get Together works closely with certain departments at UTM, so our project will also influence the developments to come through that partnership. From this project, I learned the importance of education, and the power that fun can have on learning. I will remember these lessons as I continue to get involved on campus and in the Mississauga community.

Homelessness in Toronto: A week of awareness and education

Are you interested in building consciousness around homelessness in Toronto? March 15-18, the CCP in conjunction with W.A.T.C.H. and Helping Hands, will be hosting events around campus!

March 15
8:30am: Supporting the soup kitchen at the Church of the Redeemer
Meet at Koffler House – Main Lobby

5:30pm: Lowdown Tracks (2015) Screening
Meet at Koffler House – Room 113

March 16
2-5pm: 24 HOURS Video Challenge
Meet at Koffler House – Multi-purpose Room (2nd Floor)

March 17
3pm: Walking With: Exploring local homelessness
Meet at Koffler House – Multi-purpose Room (2nd Floor)

March 18
3pm: Let’s Talk Toronto discussion series: Storytelling and the homeless context in Toronto
OISE, Peace Lounge (7th Floor)

Homelessness in Toronto

Register for any or all of the events at: http://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/ccp/homelessness-toronto