Win 4 Kids Finalist- Kennedy House Youth Services

Kenndy_House_-_Happy_under_parachute-_600_pxl.jpgFor many kids in high-risk urban areas, a community after school program is the only opportunity they have to spend time with friends, be physically active and get support with their homework.

Kennedy House Youth Services currently offers an after school program focused on vulnerable kids aged four to 13 who live in high-risk areas of Scarborough. The program has three components: physical ativity, healthy snack time and homework help. Physical activity may include sports, games, dancing or organized classes like Zumba or yoga. 

We address the most important elements of a child’s life. In many cases, physical activity, homework help and healthy food may be lacking in the rest of their lives. The result is healthier, happier kids who are more confident and better able to interact positively with those around them.

In 2013, Kennedy House worked with Toronto Community Housing to identify a need for an after school program in the area of Gilder in Scarborough. The organization opened a new after school program in the Gilder Community Room in September 2013. The children attending this location live in low-income apartment buildings nearby.

The Gilder area is extremely diverse with a larger percentage of newcomers and issues with crime, gangs and drug activity. This new program supports the vulnerable children who may not have other options for after school activities.

Kennedy House currently offers the after school program on Wednesdays to a group of 25 children, but there is an additional group of 25 kids who can’t attend on Wednesdays.

Funding from the Win 4 Kids contest would be used to offer an additional day of programming to reach the other group of children. Money will be used for resources, and to cover staffing expenses.

Funds received from Win 4 Kids have the potential to help the 75 kids currently in our program and the 25 new kids who will access Kennedy House’s new day of service at Gilder. This means about 100 vulnerable and high-risk children will benefit from additional funding in the year to come.

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The Confidence to Try #FEELGOODFRIDAY Lukas is a 10-year-old Raptors fan who plays basketball with his local chapter of Special Olympics, but it wasn’t that long ago that he was afraid to join a team. Lukas is an outgoing kid who likes to make friends and has always been very active. But his early experiences in organized physical activity were not positive. One of his biggest challenges with autism is struggling to follow directions in large groups. He was often told he was doing things wrong and even that he would embarrass the team. “These negative comments deflated his confidence, and he became afraid to try new things,” explained his mom Lisa. When he was eight, Lukas took part in the Sports of All Sorts program at the Geneva Centre for Autism. The supportive environment in the Sports of All Sorts program, funded by a GoodLife Kids grant, was a real game-changer for him. Constant encouragement and positive reinforcement gave Lukas a safe space to explore new activities without a fear of being judged. With one-on-one support he played basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf. “We’re so glad to make physical activity a regular part of Lukas’ life and we’ve found ways for him to continue practicing at home,” said Lisa. “We bought a tennis net for the backyard, and now that he’s not afraid, he loves to go to glow-in-the-dark mini-putt with his dad!” As Lukas turned around on the basketball court to wave to his mom, he gave her two big thumbs up and her eyes welled up with tears of joy. “Watching him enjoy himself, I’m overwhelmed with happiness and pride,” she shared. “He has talents! But most of all, he has regained a belief in himself – that he CAN do it – and that is so powerful.”

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