A Message from David Lockett, PACT Urban Peace President & Co-Founder
It is the power of continuous improvement fueled by unconditional kindness that is behind every decision PACT makes. As an organization, we are constantly asking ourselves one key question: what new program components or best practice strategies can we implement to improve desired outcomes such as urban peace, and better serve the youth we support?
What is clear, is that we have the courage to try new and innovative ideas. We want to succeed but we are not afraid to fail. We create an environment within PACT that encourages everyone on our team to be creative, think outside the box and to try new things, allowing them to bring their unique gifts and valuable experience to the party. The good news is that when you constantly make small improvements they can collectively add up to massive social change.
Some examples over the past year of the way PACT is spearheading change:
On-the-Job, Paid Training for PACTBuild Youth
Lead instructor of our PACTBuild wall finishing program, Rich Siebert, has developed an on-the-job, paid training program that allows select at-risk youth who have demonstrated the required skills, consistency and maturity, to slowly integrate into the job market. PACT initially subsidizes the hourly wage for these motivated youth as they receive valuable on the job coaching, guided by their trusted instructor who has already developed a rapport with them, during the initial training program and who may ultimately hire them full time into his own painting company. This new program component provides structured, caring and patient support that allows youth the added time to adjust to the demands and realities of working on a real job site. This one simple strategy can make the difference in breaking the cycle of poverty in an individuals life by helping them transition to stable long term and viable employment.
Veggie Scraps in Exchange for Fresh Produce
In our Grow-to-Learn Schoolyard Gardening program at John Polanyi CI, garden manager Adam Dirks introduced an innovative ‘Compost for Veggie Scraps’ exchange program. Many low income people from the local community brought their kitchen scraps to the garden in exchange for market dollars which were redeemed at our weekly garden market. This provided hundreds of individuals with high quality, organic produce given to them in a dignified way that allowed them to contribute to the overall success of the garden. The introduction of this new program component produced thousands of pounds of high quality compost for our gardens, reduced local waste, lowered our operating costs and ultimately makes our whole program more sustainable into the future. The students who helped run our weekly community compost markets also gained valuable business experience and learned compassion for those less fortunate within their community.
Free, Curriculum-Linked & Activity Based Workshops for Grades 1-12
Our gardening program also designed and formally introduced over 30 curriculum-linked garden based workshops with full lesson plans for all grade levels – now available on our website. This has allowed a greater number of teachers from all the primary and middle schools in the area to select and book garden workshops for their students. As a result, PACT delivered close to 100 workshops during the 2016 growing season, supporting close to 3000 student visits and fully utilizing the gardens as vibrant outdoor living classrooms.
Original Song, Music Video Release
This past summer, our PACTFilm and PACTMusic programs came together and collaborated with the support of some industry professionals to produce a music video for an original song called “Thoughts” written and performed by the youth and instructors of our music program.
Watch the music video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2mIIHPcNyE
Summer Garden Camp
We introduced a new summer camp at our John Polanyi CI garden that was very successful and involved yoga and mindfulness, arts and crafts, cooking and gardening.
See the entire Year in Review 2016 report for all the highlights.
It’s been a tremendous year!
Gallery: Click any image to expand
This year, PACTCooking saw many exciting changes! In the summer of 2016, we developed a new and improved curriculum for our students that was implemented with great success. Client participation and retention was fantastic from start to finish. As well as learning to make international recipes each week, youth also take part in preparing meals that are distributed each week to a local youth shelter and church food bank. The 8-week session culminates in a community dinner where seniors are invited to dinner.
PACT ONLINE ENTREPRENEUR
In its second year, PACT Online Entrepreneur continues to grow and evolve. This eight-week entrepreneurial, digital marketing course takes youth through the fundamentals of building an online e-store. Students learn the process of taking a product (leather belts made by PACTFashion students), branding it, selling it online and using free, online programs to promote it to target audiences through social media and digital marketing.
In 2016, we launched the PACT Leather Goods online store!
Another great year for PACTFilm with youth producing short films about youth homelessness, mental health and even a parody of Donald Trump. This past summer film workshops worked with the music program to develop and shoot a professional music video.
If you wish to view any or all of the short PSA’s made this year, please visit our YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/PACTyouthfilms
Students in the introductory, 8-week sewing program learned to cut and sew mittens and neck warmers that were donated to Out of the Cold, as well as baby blankets, diaper bags and pajamas that were made for New Circles. An advanced drop-in program allows youth to further their knowledge and work on personal projects such as clothing lines and school portfolios. Also in 2016, advanced students who showed exceptional interest were offered the chance to take part in a 16-week Portfolio Prep Summer Camp program.
The incredible commitment of our life coaches ensured our award-winning LifePlan Coaching program excelled in 2016. Program manager Catalina Chaux continuously went the extra mile, working with the courts and judges to help teens who are caught in the criminal system make real change in their lives. Will Manos led the re-launch of the PACT LifePlan Coaching program in Belleville, Ontario. We also made great progress with the development of a new internal information system that will ultimately help our coaches better serve our youth.