Baz Strong kicks off in Calgary!

SHLF is proud to announce a new Calgary partnership.  ‘Baz Strong’ was created to support the at-risk youth at Ian Bazalgette Junior High School. Kicking off in Fall 2011, the programme includes 21 students from grades 7 – 9 who will participate in a special ‘Friday School’ to provide them with academic and athletic support.

Every Friday afternoon, students participate in focused quiet academic tutorial time, provided with a healthy and nutritious performance snack and Cross-Fit, yoga, dryland training, speed, power, agility, etc.

To kick off the program, the students will be completing a purpose summary, undergoing a fitness test, obtaining parent permission, and preparing for a field trip on September 30th where they will volunteer as lines people for the Calgary Middle Schools Athletic Association’s soccer season tournament.

SHLF has provided funding to support the whole programme, helping purchase athletic and academic supplies and provide Baz Strong gear including dri-fit shorts and shirts. There is no to students thanks to SHLF. Additionally, Calgary Committee members have even run training sessions with the Baz Strong youth. Professional soccer player Liam de Silva provided a soccer skills clinics with the kids and teachers.

The program has been designed and created by the principal and three teachers who have all volunteered their time. 

“Many of our students will experience high performance training and meet trainers and athletes in facilities that they did not even know existed.  We want our Baz Strong kids to be empowered and reach their full potential.  We believe in potential fulfilled and don’t want to see potential wasted.  Our students must commit to EVERY Friday and must work hard in all areas of the program.  Part of the program includes regularly giving back to the community.

There is not another program that we are aware of that is anything like Baz Strong and we are proud to partner with SHLF to run this program.  We are making a difference in kids’ lives."
- Principal Kevin Tonak

Bouncing Boys Back to Books has another great summer!

In August, SHLF partner Bouncing Boys Back to Books celebrated another successful summer programme. For two weeks in August,  25 at-risk boys from Westmount Park School, an inner city school in Montreal, participated in a basketball and literacy program.

This year, for the first timem the program included the addition of recent Grade 6 graduates who participated as ‘peer’ leaders in the programme. These 4 boys, who were previously participants, became mentors, videographers, movie directors, editors, assistant coaches and sous-chefs! They were fantastic and we hope the sense of achievement after being elevated to a leader will last a lifetime.

The theme this summer was storytelling.  According to BBBB Director and Teache Suzanne Drouin:

“Storytelling is an important building block for our literacy skills, and different forms of storytelling easily cross all ages and cultures. We used jokes as a means to introduce storytelling to our boys, especially the younger ones. They loved to stand-up during our community time at the end of the day and tell a joke.”

Technology played a big role in BBBB this summer. Each group of boys created a digital story that they then presented in the form of short movies. In addition to literacy, the boys also developed their basketball skills and sportsmanship. They were coached and practiced daily and were able to showcase their improved skills at the year-end celebration.

“Bouncing Boys Back to Books would not have been such a hit without our solid team of teachers and coaches. The support of SHLF was fundamental to our success, allowing us to host these boys for two weeks without any additional financial burden to their families.” 

We thank all SHLF supporters for making this program possible!

Take a Hike goes hiking

Take a Hike had a successful end to the year 2011 school year and has kicked off the Fall with a bang!

SHLF is proud to help fund the activities of Take a Hike  - an alternative education program that engages at-risk youth through a unique combination of adventure-based learning, academics, counseling, and community involvement.

In 2011, the program had 9 graduates and awarded three $5000 scholarhips to alumni!  Over the summer they held a 3-week Grade 11 and 12 summer program and has already completed their Fall expeditions including: a 10-day hike in the Chilcotins,  a 7-day hike in the Chilcotins and 3-day expedition in Granite Falls, funded by SHLF and our supporters. 

Below is a message sent by a graduate of the 2011 programme sharing what the program has meant to him and how it literally turned his life around and gave him hope.

"The skills I have learned will help me in both the present and the future. Without this school, I would literally be sitting on the curb doing nothing but asking for change. I’m proud to say I’m a graduate of Take a Hike 2011. Thank You."
         – Take a Hike Graduate, 2011

You, our sponsors and donors, have made a huge ifference in this boy's and many other kids' lives.

Streetfront Update

SHLF's inspirational partner Streetfront, is coming off a fantastic summer and starting the 2011 school year with a lot of new students. With only 9 of last year’s 22 students returning, teacher Trevor is anticipating a challenging year as the established culture tends to move with the kids.  Of course, if anyone is up to this challenge, it is Trevor.

Many of kids had great summers.  One student, Zach, went on a wilderness outdoor education program for 8 days, 60km north of Tofino. The program brings kids from various alternative programs and immerses them fully in west coast aboriginal culture, without any electricity or distractions.  The kids return fresh, clean and yearning to go back to school.  He could not stop talking about this amazing experience.

The Yo Bro initiative also ran a summer program and every participant was either a former or current Streetfront student.  The program included rigorous exercise, jui jitsu training and life skill and kept the kids productive and busy all summer.  It culminated with a barbeque and the kids were very appreciative of the experience.

Now that they are back in school, the program is back to regular day hikes, 10k runs, and the start of the Streetfront Garden Project which is a sustainable garden near their classroom. The first camping trip funded by SHLF took place Sep 19th at Manning Park where they spent 5 days hiking and exploring. Thanks to SHLF supporters, the students will be setting their sites on the Seattle marathon again with a few of the kids training for Victoria’s marathon in October!

Thank you SHLF supporters for making these amazing feats possible!

Loyola-Westhaven Update

In 2011 SHLF will continue to support the tremendous work of the Loyola and Westhaven Community Centres in the low-income NDG area of Montreal.\

In 2010, SHLF worked with the centres to establish the first ever youth basketball league in the neighbourhood.  Previously, the costs and travel necessary to participate in sports were prohibitive for parents (most of whom are working single parents).

In Fall 2011, over 80 youth are participating in 5 age group teams supported by SHLF (7-9, 10-12, 13-17), with registration filling up immediately!  Practices have started (3 times per week) and weekly league games will start to take place in October. 

Thanks to SHLF supporters, these youth are now able to practice and play games and tournaments regularly for the first time ever.

“The success of the program is not measured by the wins and losses, but that numerous children are exposed to an opportunity to participate in an organized sport. Parents greatly appreciate the fact that the program has no financial cost and that they don’t have to worry about transport.”

Brigid Glustein, Director.