Each year, PACT is fortunate to partner with the TDSB’s Focus on Youth (FOYT) initiative to hire summer students to work in the Grow-to-Learn Schoolyard Gardens. For 2014, we were able to hire and provide employment for seven youths, all who are paid for 35 hours/week for the duration of the summer months. These youth help out with all the goings-on at the gardens and also includes opportunities for the youth to visit other garden sites and help out at the Sorauren Market selling produce once every other week.
All of the students who work with us during the summer dedicate much of their time on a volunteer-basis throughout the rest of the year, have formed emotional and social connections to the garden and have spoken passionately and clearly to the PACT staff as to what the gardens mean to them. The main sentiment always seems clear: the gardens are more than just gardens. They are places to learn, to be social with their peers and with a mentor, a safe place to hang out, a place to experience beauty and peace and so much more!
Read about the Lakeshore CI student experiences on our blog and the positive impact of these gardens is clear.: http://www.pactgrow2learn.blogspot.ca/2014/07/the-garden-in-my-eyes.html
With the job market prospects for young people, especially those living in priority neighbourhoods, being so dismal in our current economic state, it is truly amazing to have programs like FOYT providing opportunities to find meaningful and life-changing employment opportunities like the jobs offered through PACT Grow-to-Learn.
Not all of these youth will go on to be professional gardeners, but guaranteed all of these youth that spend significant time at our gardens will go on to be more health conscious and more environmentally friendly in their day to day lives, more connected to the earth and therefore more connected to others. Much credit for these qualities being fostered goes to our amazing garden managers, but more credit goes to mother nature herself, who can’t help but transform lives and hearts with all who spend time with her.
About the Toronto District School Board’s – Focus on Youth Program:
The Focus on Youth program seeks to “enhance high quality summer program opportunities for children and youth in Toronto’s urban inner city areas by offering free use of school space for organized community-based programs, and by providing employment opportunities and leadership activities for the youth of these communities. The FOYT program, for the eighth year, will promote learning through play, healthy lifestyle and positive self-image for children and youth of these communities. These will have a positive impact on student achievement and well-being during the school year.”
For more, visit the PACT Grow-to-Learn page >