PACT URBAN PEACE PROGRAM, TORONTO

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The Ripple Effect of Kindness

A reflection by David Lockett,

The ripple effect of kindness is much like a stone that pierces a clear and tranquil pond. But these kindness ripples are eternal; they keep going, beyond the edge of the pond and out into the universe, continuing to create more goodness for ever and ever.

Many years ago in PACTs early beginnings, Marjorie Agnew, The Main Course cookery shop owner donated $10,000 per year to help grow and sustain PACTCooking. After a couple of years, I suggested she print a two-sided, colored information card to distribute to her customers, taking about PACT and her support.

One of the cards ended up in the kitchen window of the mother of an administrative worker at the local high school. This woman saved the card for her daughter, the administrator of the school, as her daughter kept telling her about an enthusiastic young teacher who wanted to start both a cooking program and a garden at their school in order to better support at-risk youth.

This young teacher was Rahim Essabhai. The same day he received the card, he called me, we met at Starbucks and spoke for three hours.

Since that day, Rahim has been an integral part of our PACT Grow-to-Learn School Gardens and responsible for PACT partnering with up to 10 schools. His grade 12 business leadership students have utilized and improved garden activities over the years including creating The ‘Stalk Market’, a major initiative that had students sell Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares in the garden to raise funds.

Rahim Essabhai with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receiving the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence (May 2017)

This past May 2017, Rahim was chosen as one of top three high school teachers in Canada. The Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence brings to light the remarkable achievements and commitment he has shown over the years. Rahim has an impressive list of accomplishments both as a teacher and community advocate, and here at PACT we are grateful as a recipient of his kindness.

For us, it all started with an idea and a donation. Today, we’ve created an international model of excellence with our GTL garden at John Polanyi high school in Toronto’s Lawrence West community. We have a 1.5 acre urban garden and masterpiece. This year, it’s been integrated into the school curriculum and will host 4000 student visits from surrounding schools. Since our beginning, our gardens have donated close to 150,000 pounds of veggies to people in need and over 15,000 students have used our gardens.

Rahim Essabhai with students Kathleen Wynne in garden

Thank you and congratulations to Rahim and Marjorie and all who cross our path, helping us to create positive change in Toronto.

And so it goes, the ripples of kindness continue to create more goodness and kindness, and will go on forever.

Read more about Rahim’s teaching award: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/pmate-ppmee.nsf/eng/home

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