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30 community projects inspiring U of T students

Outreach initiatives part of Alternative Reading Week

Students Michelle Hayano (in red), Adriana Shu-Yin (atop ladder) and Sarah Ghazizadeh (steadying ladder) at the Weston King Neighbourhood Centre during Alternative Reading Week (photo by project leader Deem Waham)

While the stereotype may be that reading week is a time for students to "study" in such scholarly environments as tropical beaches or from the comfort of their couch, the University of Toronto's Centre for Community Partnerships this year again galvanized a cohort of students eager to come away with more than a tan from their winter break.

The opportunities to contribute to the community and gain leadership skills offered as part of Alternative Reading Week were short-term but wide-ranging and just one way U of T continues to weave itself into the functioning and betterment of its urban environment.

You can read first-hand accounts here of two students' experiences and the projects that keyed on their strength and enthusiasm.

Below is a list of the 31 projects U of T students dug into over their February break.

Through Unison Health and Community Services, which delivers accessible and high quality health and community services to communities in Toronto, students: 
  • painted a mural in the board room and window boxes at the Jane-Trethewey location and helped with a client appreciation event
  • administered a client satisfaction survey and helped out with the Annual Community Open House 
  • helped organize a staff engagement party (prepare food, provide entertainment, plan activities, and clean up).
  • helped administer a client satisfaction survey, participated in a client appreciation event, and designed a website for the Hub
  • developed a plan to display Adult Protective Services-created artwork online and organize an event for staff to engage with the artwork in this new way. 
At The Weston King Neighbourhood Centre, which responds to the people in its community who are coping with economic or social barriers, students: 
  • painted a mural providing a historical represenation of Weston Mount Dennis
  • helped with a toiletry drive competition
  • cleared, cleaned, and painted a kitchen and office space
  • organized the "Hand-me-down" clothing rooms by organizing clothing, cleaning windows and floors
  • helped with skating lessons and community celebratory activities at skating rink.
Through the Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF), which offers employment services, skills training, language training, childcare services and supports for children and families, newcomer services, youth programs and community enterprises programs in the former city of York, students:
  • supported a variety of maintenance projects
  • painted a classroom at LEF
  • helped peer leaders promote and organize a workshop on Type 2 diabetes prevention and supported the LEF Food Market after brainstorming ideas on how to communicate information about Type 2 Diabetes during the Market 
  • worked with LEF at its Weston, Emmett and Industry Rd. locations to help clients create professional emails that can be used for resumes and work, navigate Facebook privacy and account settings, understand Twitter, use open source software, and set up websites
  • connected with local schools and businesses to create a design competition for Eglinton Avenue and contributed their own ideas as the project progresses
  • took part in activities with kids at Humewood Day Care Centre, Donald C Macdonald Child Care Centre, Fairbank Memorial Daycare Centre, Hughes Chlid Care Centre, J. R. Wilcox Centre, Roseland Day Care Centre, York Humber Child Care Centre; Volunteers used creative thinking and group engagement to lead activities in a childcare centre including science based, hands-on activities as well as activities that teach kids what they can do when faced with emergency situations such as insect bites and asthma attacks
  • helped Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada students work on their English skills while learning about where people come from and their goals and aspirations in Canada
  • organized and hosted an event for high school youth exploring educational options after high school, including careers and post-secondary programs such as university, college, and apprenticeships, in addition to other important information useful for making the transition out of high school 
At the Constituency Office of MPP Laura Albanese, representing York South - Weston, students:
  • helped to research and compile a list of all businesses located and operating in York South - Weston, determining sector/industry type, bussiness size, and contact information 
At Eva's Initiatives, which works collaboratively with homeless and at-risk youth to help them reach their potential to lead productive, self-sufficient and healthy lives, students: 
  • researched donor prospects to determine their potential viability based on a compilation of corporations, foundations, and individuals who appear to support like causes
At the Career Foundation, which connects job seekers and employers, students: 
  • helped to increase the visibility of the program to job seekers, employers and local community agencies in the Weston Mount Dennis area, maximizing the flow of customers accessing services at the Weston location and reinforcing partnerships with local community service agencies
March 10, 2014