PRESS RELEASE: Empowering children through growth mindset, balloon twisting and employment

PRESS RELEASE: Empowering children through growth mindset, balloon twisting and employment

Helping children value learning through teaching the fun, creative and employable skill of balloon twisting.

Etobicoke, Ontario, July 1, 2018 –  Let’s Get Together! is excited to announce the success of their new initiative True North Friends Junior Balloon Twisting Workshops.  

Since mid May 2018, Let’s Get Together’s six Junior Balloon Twister Trainers (JBTT), with the support of an adult coordinator, have taught over 250 children between the ages of 10-12 years of age how to balloon twist using a growth mindset.  The JBTT themselves range in age between 10 – 12 years and have been offered employment opportunities as Twisters since the start of this initiative.

This unique workshop was funded by Healthy Kids Community Challenge Rexdale’s fourth theme Power Off and Play which promotes powering off devices before sleep, during meal and snack time, and encourage of physical activity, social interaction and family time. The True North Friends Junior Balloon Twisting Workshops were specifically designed to help children develop this employable skill while promoting the importance of growth mindset, healthy social skills and acceptance of self and others. Children who learn this unique skill will have another cool activity in their “life toolkit” that encourages them to put down the electronics, explore creative arts and enjoy building meaningful connections within the community. The funding also provided each child with their own balloon twist kit to keep, and each of the 18 organizations and schools visited received their own club starter kit, so their newly trained Junior Twisters can continue to practice and teach their peers.

 

What is Growth Mindset?

Growth mindset, discovered by world-renowned Standford University psychologist Carol Dweck, is the belief that the most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point.  This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. (excerpt taken from Mindset)

Connection between growth mindset and balloon twisting

Balloon twisting is a wonderful and cool way to teach anyone how to learn!! It teaches children how to be more patient, focused, creative, self-resilient and communicative, which is often a struggle for many children today” explains Alison Canning, Executive Director for Let’s Get Together! and resident of the Kingsview Village Westway Neighbourhood.  “Balloons can pop, fly away or untwist at any point, so the children often take a different approach, accept feedback/suggestions, learn from their mistakes and try again. Since the children want to make their own balloon character they continue to work hard and persevere until they have their creation. The interesting part is that their final product is often not what they expected, but they don’t get discouraged – they’re motivated to pick up another balloon and try again. This time they ask for help or suggestions or watch their peers. This is growth mindset in action.”

The Impact

Balloon twisting allows for compassion and develops young leaders of tomorrow today. “It’s fun teaching people, especially when they’re my age, because I can do something they can’t and it’s nice to share the experience of what I’ve learned,” says Seyara Rambukkanage, a Grade 6 student, resident of Etobicoke North and a Let’s Get Together!’s Junior Balloon Twister Trainer.

This workshop made me feel really good about myself using the (growth mindset) phrase ‘This make take some time’.  It actually made me feel more patient about making the balloons today, and I feel really, really good about it!” said one of the students from The Elms Junior Middle School workshop held on June 25th.

Balloon twisting is a great activity for the kids, showing them what is not possible is actually possible by pushing the boundaries and twisting and making beautiful décor,” shares Jenifferjit Sidhu, Media Relations Officer for Toronto Police Services. One of Toronto Police Services Community Outreach Programs participated in the balloon twisting workshop.

The fun continues

The fun continues with the True North Friends Junior Balloon Twist-Off  held this Friday, July 6th at the Rexdale Foodie Festival at Toronto Albion Library.  Children 14 years and under will have a chance to showcase their new skills and creative minds between 4:15 – 5:30pm.  Let’s Get Together! and their Junior Balloon Twisting Trainers will also offer free 15 minute workshops to children and their parents how to twist after the Twist-Off at 6pm and 7pm.

To book a workshop or register for the Junior Balloon Twist-Off visit http://www.truenorthfriends.ca or contact 416-302-8349

About Let’s Get Together!

Let’s Get Together is a not-for-profit organization that creates opportunities for parents, youth and communities to access resources that provide educational assistance and support student well-being. Their mission is to encourage healthy parent involvement in children’s education and inspire youth to value learning while making it accessible and equitable.

Let’s Get Empowered! – Encouraging self-discovery and resilience through storytelling and games

Let’s Get Empowered! – Encouraging self-discovery and resilience through storytelling and games

On Thursday, July 19, from 7 to 8:30 pm, we invite families and friends to a FREE, fun evening of learning through stories and exploring games. Come out to Studio 89 in Mississauga to meet our volunteer student ambassadors – a group of really cool post-secondary students that strive to empower the younger generation through storytelling and playful learning.

Through trying a variety of skill-development games and interacting with our student ambassadors, we hope everyone will learn more about themselves and build resilience while they engage with other like-minded families in the local neighbourhood.

This event is ideal for families with children in JK and up.

All youth groups, clubs, camps, and schools are welcome.

 

Helping families get access to affordable, renewed desktops and laptops today

Helping families get access to affordable, renewed desktops and laptops today

We are excited to announce that Let’s Get Together! is partnering with Renewed Computer Technology (RCT) to help provide access to affordable desktops and laptops to low income families.

If you need a computer for school or work, you can get a renewed desktop package with monitor, keyboard and mouse for $60.00 (plus $11.00 shipping) or a laptop package for $150.00 (plus shipping $11.00).

The renewed computers will come with Windows 10 and MS Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote plus learning software to familiarize you with your new equipment. All systems will also include standard 2-year depot warranty provided by RCT (batteries not covered by warranty).

Click on the image to view
and print the flyer (PDF format)

 Building Tech Savvy families and communities

“This is exciting and really needed!” said Alison Canning, Executive Director of Let’s Get Together! and resident of Kingsview Village Westway Neighbourhood.  “I have seen kids typing up school reports on their cell phones because they couldn’t afford to purchase a computer. This will definitely make a big difference for them. Having technology in their home can also increase ease of access to applying for online posting for jobs, internships and volunteer positions as well as online learning opportunities for parents, youth and children together. We aim to help approximately 20 families in this round and hope the community members, both individuals and organizations, will consider working with us to sponsor the purchases so we could actually offer the computers to families for free.  Our mission through this partnership is to create more tech savvy families and communities across the GTA.”

Making learning more equitable and accessible

The renewed computers from RCT, are available to low-income individuals and families living in Ontario. Applicants use a special group code provided by Let’s Get Together! to apply online for their equipment or attend in person to one of our info sessions. To be eligible, individuals and families have to meet the low-income criteria and provide proof of income. Parents or legal guardians may apply on behalf of a child or youth under the age of 18.

 

Contact us at info@letsgettogether.ca or call 416-302-8349 if you are interested in applying for a desktop or laptop or have questions about this initiative. Application deadline is July 13, 2018.

Optimism: Can we learn to be ‘Sunny’?

Optimism: Can we learn to be ‘Sunny’?

Originally posted on Bhavya’s blog Living Simply and Simply Living designed to help people deal with their everyday stress and anxieties. She’s looking forward to working with Let’s Get Together! to strengthen the voices of youth through the role of Youth Ambassador. Welcome Bhavya!

As you may have read in my previous blog post, defensive pessimism is a strategy with a lot of potential for those prone to certain levels of anxiety. However, dispositional optimism still holds a lot more traditional advantages to its name; lower rates of depression, reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, and protection from the common cold to name a few. Companies want to employ positive workers who’ll increase efficiency and add to a healthy work environment over more downcast ones. The benefits of being an optimist in today’s world are ubiquitous. They might as well sell it in a bottle. Profits would be astronomical. ‘The B Positive Serum, the smallest dose will do’.

It doesn’t seem fair that pessimists are more liable to a plethora of mental and physical illnesses. So why are some people predisposed to think in a positive fashion while others think in a negative one? Can we change our tendencies to those of an optimist’s rather than a pessimist’s?

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman explains and highlights the differences between optimists and pessimists by way of Explanatory Style. This rationale can be used to give some insight into the learned helplessness model (Overmier & Seligman, 1967). Some throw their hands in the air and accept defeat easily when faced with an insurmountable challenge while others choose to persist nevertheless. Those who bow out would be labelled as pessimists while those who endure are likely optimists. Our explanatory style is second nature, a default influenced by past experiences that brings us to anticipate similar events in the future a certain way.

Seligman nicely outlines the differences between the two outlooks in his bestselling publication, ‘Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life’.

” The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault.
The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case. “

Positive Explanatory style and Negative Explanatory style induce different behaviours to a certain outcome or situation on three key points; temporary vs permanent, specific vs pervasive, and external control vs internal control. Does the individual believe that the same event or a similar one will not be subject to change or that it will potentially evolve? Do they hold a general contributing factor responsible for the end result or a specific one? Do they credit themselves with the outcome or an independent force?

Prior to writing this blog and doing a bit of research on explanatory style I took a quiz created by Stanford University students. They had adapted a short test of 48 questions from Seligman’s book that I thought was fun and gave me some understanding of my ‘default setting’. Click here to take the quiz for yourself.

In essence, when a wanted outcome develops, an optimist responds to permanence, pervasiveness, and internal control while a pessimist looks towards temporariness, specificity,  and external control and vice versa. Say a sunny person and a cloudy one both received ninety-eights on their English tests. The former would feel energized under the assumption that they’ll continue to earn such marks, the affirmation that they’re good at English, and that their mark was a direct result of their hard work. The latter would believe that this high-ninety was incidental and not likely to repeat itself, that their success was attributed to their understanding of the individual test subject, and that the questions asked were simply extremely easy.

It seems cruel to be forced under the seemingly constant cloud of doom and gloom that is dispositional pessimism. To fall victim to the learned helplessness model and as a result  perhaps succumb to depression. Research suggests that psychological interventions can increase optimism (Malouff & Schoutte, 2016). Dr. Martin Seligman includes a cognitive therapy method known as the ABC’s in his book.
A – Adversity – The problem/situation encountered
B – Beliefs – What you think about the problem/situation

C – Consequences – How you face the problem/situation

Using the above acronym you record a problem you’ve encountered in your daily life, your thoughts surrounding it, and how you reacted to the problem. Seligman also advises those wishing to transition from pessimism to optimism to either distract themselves when pessimistic thoughts make an unwanted appearance or dispute these thoughts. He writes that the technique of disputing them proves to be more helpful in the future. This is because successfully disputed beliefs are less likely to recur.

Of course these strategies can only be implemented if someone is aware of their inclination to think negatively. Pessimists tend to discredit victory, beat themselves up over failure, give in to the helplessness model, and generally see the worst in themselves and others driving them to exhibit selfish and jealous traits. Don’t label yourself as an awful person if any of the previously mentioned criteria applies to you. That’s all in accordance with your default setting. It’s up to you to flip the switch from negative to positive.

Bhavya Tandon, Student
Youth Ambassador with Let’s Get Together!

 

Bhavya is a high school student with an interest in the sciences, psychology and sociology in particular. She is an advocate for mental health and writes a blog called Living Simply and Simply Living. She’s looking forward to working with Let’s Get Together! to strengthen the voices of youth through the role of Youth Ambassador. A young person with a passion for writing; LGT gives her the opportunity to reach more people with her blog.

Raptors 905 on Parenting 101

Raptors 905 on Parenting 101

Hershey Centre, Mississauga – As the Raptors 905 players were preparing for their game against Wisconsin, the families of Kaza Kajami-Keane and Aaron Best were sharing their parenting stories with families from across the GTA. Parent Involvement Matters is an event organized by Raptors 905 and Let’s Get Together!, a grassroot non-profit, with the goal of bringing together a community of parents inspired to support their children through physical activity. It was also supported by the Ontario Basketball Association.

When one parent asked how to encourage children to stay humble and support their teammates, Donna Best stressed the importance of family – the theme of the conference.

“I’m always telling Aaron: the family’s eyes are on you,” she said. “We’re close-knit, watching you, making sure you’re staying on the right track and making sure that you’re not getting caught up in the bright lights.” 

Hugh Keane spoke about how introverted children can build relationships through participating in sports. “Kaza is very quiet,” he said. “Once he gets on the court he’s still a little bit non-vocal, but he begins to trust the people that are on his team and that usually becomes his conversational support.”

Elsewhere in the Hershey Centre, children were participating in activities supported by the University of Toronto Mississauga student volunteers – shooting hoops or designing signs in support of Raptors 905.

Ryan, grade 6, was decked out in Raptors 905 merchandise as he created a poster in support of his favourite player – DeMar DeRozan.  With him was Jaiden, who says he would like to ask the Raptors 905 players what they had to sacrifice to become good players. 

Back in the conference, John, the father of two children, asked about the best way to prepare his children for the loss of a familiar community network when they go to university. In his response, Hugh Keane addressed the sacrifices that parents make for their children. “When it’s your child’s dream and your child’s goal,” he told John, “you make the necessary adjustments that you have to – and it’s a wonderful experience for them.”

Donna Best stressed having a safe place for children to share any problems they’ve encountered. “We have to set an example,” she said. “You have to let the kids know what they’re going to be facing.  You have to make it a comfortable environment for them to talk to you.”

The Executive Director of Let’s Get Together!, Alison Canning, finished up the conference with a closing statement about the importance of communities coming together to create good experiences for their children. She stressed that “it starts at home and it starts with us and that’s why we’re here today – to make sure that we have the tools to do the job so we can do it the best we can.

John Wiggins, the Team Operations Director for Raptors 905 stated that “This discussion that Let’s Get Together! is hosting is providing an interactive platform to help the parents learn from each other and share their insights as to how to best manage this responsibility. In most youth clubs that I’ve been a part of or have witnessed, the parents are the backbone of success for the program. Raptors 905 is happy to support this campaign as a way to help foster the future success of our athletes.”

Let’s Get Together!’s goal is to bring together a community of parents and youth who are inspired to support each other and to provide resources and opportunities for their communities.  

Parent Involvement Matters was Let’s Get Together!’s first event – an event that Let’s Get Together! and Raptors 905 should be proud of. Alison Canning expressed her delight at the success of the event and is looking forward to the future.

She said, “This is the start of us; getting together and creating something better and creating a movement and making our world and our communities healthy.”

Moving forward, Let’s Get Together! will be partnering once again with the Raptors 905 team on March 10th for an event discussing a growth mindset. This presentation will provide powerful and inspirational messages from Raptors 905 players Aaron Best, Kaza Keane, Shevon Thompson and Kennedy Meeks on how they have developed resiliency and focus.

Visit our website at communitylearninghub.org for more information.
We hope to see your family there!

PHOTOS AND VIDEOS

Photos/videos courtesy of Laura MakEdge Imaging, our volunteers and guests.

Julia Wischnewski is currently completing her Honours Bachelor’s Degree with the University of Toronto and specializes in Psychology and Religion. She works closely with various organizations that promote youth welfare and offer services to new families coming into Canada, including volunteering with Let’s Get Together! Julia plans on continuing her education by volunteering and teaching abroad once she has graduated.

Are you looking for a Summer Job?

Are you looking for a Summer Job?

Hey current students! Are you starting your search for a summer position? Check out the following link for postings from various Ministries in Ontario: https://www.gojobs.gov.on.ca/Search.aspx

Why take a summer position with groups such as in the Government or with NGOs?

As a young person you have many options for what to do with your summer off… Backpack Southeast Asia, work at the mall, watch Netflix then sleep all day or perhaps you could even find a summer position in your field. All these choices may be something you are starting to think about now and I am someone who did each…

As a recent graduate one of the best pieces of advice I can share from my journey is that experience in your field is key to helping you learn about work in your desired field. Summer positions help you develop your networks, let you apply your classroom learning and provide the hands on experiences you may need for the future. Reflecting on each of these choices I know that what experience I still carry with me today and that has served me best in my journey to work in International Development was my internship with Red Cross. I spent several summers that turned into full year internships with the Red Cross in Disaster Management and Youth projects. This experience gave me insight how to coordinate community projects, confidence in leading others and it immensely helped to have such supportive supervisors who could write letters of recommendation that helped with graduate school applications.

I feel confident now applying for job postings in my field that expect a Masters Degree and at least 5 years experience. As being 23 I am able to say that I have the work experience (as well as an Msc) which is often what holds new graduates back from applying to their dream careers.

I am so thankful that I can apply to postings now and do work that utilizes my knowledge that I gained in my summer positions. In addition it also helped me narrow down what work I wanted and did not want to pursue in my future.

Don’t be afraid to apply- take the initiative and go for it!

Kianna Dewart, B.A, MSc. International Development
Coordinator and Youth Ambassador with Let’s Get Together
Email: kianna@letsgettogether.ca

Feel free to connect if you have any questions!

 

Kianna is a recent Masters of Science graduate from the University of Amsterdam with expertise in the field of community development, youth programs, gender equality and sexuality health education. Kianna is the Workshop Coordinator and Youth Voice Ambassador with Let’s Get Together. Kianna’s role includes providing thoughtful insights for Let’s Get Together youth projects that are relevant and reflective of experiences youth face today. Kianna seeks to continually be part of the process of encouraging youth to develop their voices to advocate for what they need for school and personal success.