Raptors 905 and Let’s Get Together! partner to support parents, make connections and build a community

Raptors 905 and Let’s Get Together! partner to support parents, make connections and build a community

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” – Dr. Brene Brown

From left to right: Hugh and Karen Keane, Donna Best, Sierra Shinn-Best and Ryan Reid, share their personal stories of how they support Raptors 905 players, Kaza Keane and Aaron Best. 

Last Saturday morning Let’s Get Together! in partnership with the Raptors 905 team hosted a parent involvement panel discussion. The Raptors 905 is the G-League affiliate of the Toronto Raptors. Families of two players, Kaza Keane and Aaron Best, sat on the panel sharing their journey of raising young professional athletes and offering advice to parents of inspiring athletes.

Services for parent support is a need in our community that has been identified by Alison Canning and her team from Let’s Get Together! Parents face ongoing pressures that can be a difficult path to navigate. Although there are a multitude of parenting blogs and magazines, creating human connections and finding ways to relate to one another allows parents to know they are not alone in their experience.

Today’s modern Toronto family looks much different than it did fifty years ago. We are seeing an increase in mixed-race, same-sex, blended, and even single parent families. According to a 2011 study, single parents head one in every five families. As well it was found that in 2016 almost a quarter are lone-parent households (88.5% of these are a female alone family) (Statistics Canada, 2016). Many parents have expressed that they struggle to connect with their family due to increased demands and expectations. As the work force modernizes with both parents working, there is less time to connect with their children. Parents also tend to have less family support as they no longer live within 5km of their extended family to share the responsibilities of raising a child. This is shown in the most recent census where only 3.7% of households in Toronto are a multi-generational household. (Statistics Canada, 2016)

Children are more stressed and are burning out faster than ever due to high expectations from school and extracurricular activities. This can intensify from distractions like video games, television, and social media. Children and parents are both experiencing high levels of stress that can take away from spending time with another thus leading to relationships that lack trust and understanding.

This disconnect between families is stressful and leads to difficult emotions. Youth have higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts than in prior generations. However, we do know that sports and play are a natural and healthy tool to combat many of these emotions. Playing through sports allows for human connection, it teaches youth social and problem-solving skills and encourages a more active lifestyle. Although it does take time out of an already busy schedule our parents know how important it is in their child’s development. As stated by UNICEF:

“Throughout the life of a child, sport and play can be valuable tools to promote health and prevent disease, both through sport itself, and through the participatory act of watching others play, with the associated communication, education and social interaction that games can produce.” (UNICEF, 2014)

Together with the Raptors 905 team and the parents of the players, a panel was created to give new parents support in the navigation of raising their young athletes. The intention of the panel was to enable parents to build connections with another to know they are not alone in their experiences. Throughout the conversation key messages included ‘Just show up’, ‘Build your tribe’, ‘Don’t get caught up in the bright light’ and ‘Family is everything’. Overall the common theme was the importance of family connection or building community with those around you. In addition, it was expressed how valuable it is to be present with your child both on and off the court to build a healthy relationship. The Raptors 905 parents shared and suggested some helpful routines that can propel a parents’ good intentions into practice. These suggestions included: home cooked meals, hosting study groups, holding therapy breakfasts and opening a family group chat.

Watching the panel discussion, the audience nodded their heads, resonating with the experiences that the Raptors 905 parents shared. There were emotional conversations of how to raise children as a single parent and the importance of building community beyond family relations. This discussion provided an incredible opportunity to build human connection for parents across the GTA and left many filled with gratitude and inspiration.

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

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!

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.

Humber College launches Youth Transition Program

Humber College launches Youth Transition Program

Program makes postsecondary education more accessible to out-of-school youth in the community

Humber’s Community Outreach and Workforce Development department, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and department of Student Success and Engagement have launched a free program to help youth aged 19-29 make a successful transition to college, whether or not they’ve graduated from high school.

The Youth Transition Program (YTP) will be delivered four times per week from November 6 until December 15, and allows participants to explore their interests and career goals while learning more about postsecondary education options. Working with a Student Support Advisor, students will create their own individualized learning plan, focusing on the steps required to transition to a postsecondary program of their choice.

“When young people leave high school, they can become disconnected from the supports that will assist them in preparing for postsecondary options,” says Geraldine Babcock, Humber’s director of Community Outreach and Workforce Development. “This program will allow participants to better understand where they are academically, and whether they require some upgrading or are ready to apply as a mature student. Many young people aren’t aware that colleges have resources that will enable them to prepare for and pursue an education beyond high school.”

Along with sessions to explore career interests and build literacy and numeracy skills, students are also able to take specialized classes in areas such as Health, Business, Media  and Technology. Advising and mentorship are also important components of the program, with individual advising sessions happening once per week and continuing after the program has completed.

To determine the structure and content of YTP, Humber held consultations both with community groups that serve youth and with young people themselves. The feedback indicated that, along with academic skills, youth needed other practical supports to take advantage of the program. As a result, participants receive free bus tokens and lunch for the duration of the program. YTP will also run from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. each day, allowing students with children to drop them off and pick them up if needed. In addition, if students successfully complete the program and decide to apply to a postsecondary program, their application fees will be covered.

“With the recent changes to OSAP, postsecondary education has become more affordable,” says Babcock. “Humber College wants to reach out to youth who have not pursued postsecondary options, ensure that they are aware of this change, and provide the academic advising that will assist them in exploring this option further. Most importantly, the program provides supports to ensure young people have the knowledge and skills to transition successfully to a college program, allowing them to realize their full potential.”

For more information about the program, please go to humber.ca/community/youth

Meet Cindy from The Good Partnership

Meet Cindy from The Good Partnership

Ever since Cindy Wagman was finishing up her undergraduate degree, she knew she wanted to be a part of the world of fundraising. She spent 15 years working with charities but when the opportunity came up to go out on her own, she took advantage of it and created The Good Partnership.

The Good Partnership helps non-profits achieve their fundraising goals. Some of the organizations they have fundraised for are StopGap Foundation, Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter, and the Equality Effect. The Good Partnership doesn’t do one time fundraising events, rather they come in and substitute as a fundraising department when organizations don’t have the means to run their own. Contracting services are an increasingly popular way organizations choose when they’re exploring innovative ways to achieve goals within a fixed budget. When The Good Partnership works with an organization to do their fundraising, they do all the work by taking advantage of their networks.

“I quickly learned there is a whole group of organizations that are so lost with fundraising and they’re so small and no one is talking to them, no one is giving them help,” explained Wagman. “That is my mission, to work with the small organizations that have some success with fundraising but can’t grow it.”

There are a variety of different types of fundraisers for organizations to participate in. The best fundraiser for an organization reinforces the mission and is engaging for the audience.

Wagman is involved with her son’s school, which gave her some insight on school fundraisers. For schools, there can be two different approaches for determining the types of fundraisers. Schools can have a fundraiser that engages the entire family or one that allows parents to have the night off.

“The biggest thing people need to know is that it all takes work. This is especially true of crowdfunding,” explained Wagman. “There is a big misconception that if people just create a crowdfunding campaign and put it online, it will go viral and it will find all these people on the internet who want to support that work.”

Wagman explained that the best way to raise money is to connect with your current network. By getting people excited about the cause and the impact the money will have, the donations are more likely to happen.

Empowering children to help run your events is a great way for them to learn while building community. Here are Cindy’s children raising funds for Holland Bloorview Medical Centre.

“What are the schools and organizations assets, and how do you leverage them?”

If an organization or school has a large number of members/students, running a fundraiser that has high engagement with the group is an asset. Smaller organizations or schools that have highly involved members is an asset to fundraising.

“The only area people will fail time and time again is if they really try to convince people to support their organization that they don’t care about.”

Understanding the demographic is also important when considering fundraising. Raffles are ideal for diverse communities due to the flexibility of the amount of money that can be donated.

There are many options for nonprofits to raise money, but the type of fundraiser depends on each organizations situation.

Tips from Cindy for successful fundraising:

  1. You can never convert someone to support your cause; fundraising isn’t advocacy work. Find people who already support the cause of the organization.
  2. The more people who love your organization, the more they will give to their ability. Focus on the people, not the dollar amount.
  3. Stories pull on heart strings, not statistics. Focus on one story that is relatable that focuses on the individual’s journey and how the organization helped.

Other Resources:

  1. MyClassNeeds is a crowdfunding website for publicly funded schools to raise money for their cause.
  2. Get your children organizing a family fun night or another event with the Junior Event Pros workshop by Fariday Events.


Youth Speak – Youth Helping Youth

Youth Speak – Youth Helping Youth

Una Wright is the founder of YouthSpeak, a school board approved organization that provides students workshops that are presented by youth who share their personal stories. The motivation for Una to create YouthSpeak originated from the death of her two children. The workshops aim to raise awareness of mental health, and bullying. They give youth the tools to deal with any mental health problems they will face throughout their lifetime.

“They are more open minded to listening to the stories, and messages our speakers share,” said Una.

The speakers are youths who trained and have the relatable experience for other youth. The personal stories the youth speakers tell make the experience more impactful for the students who are listening to the presentations. The programs have interactive games that allow students to remain engaged instead of just listening to a speaker.

“It also creates a safe space for kids who are struggling. So if they’re going through something and they haven’t talked to anybody about it, they don’t know what’s going on, they’re experiencing high anxiety or depression.”

Una also explained that the programs hope to create compassion and understanding for the students around mental health, and bullying. It is also a reminder that they are not alone if they are experiencing bullying or anxiety.

“Often kids can kind of be tough on each other in school,” explained Una.  

“We are actually reaching out to younger and younger [age groups]. We have more and more schools calling us to speak to the grade four, five, sixes.”

Una also explained when YouthSpeak first started, they would mainly speak to mostly children in grades seven and eight. Una has found that the topic in highest demand is around the topic of anxiety.

According to Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), youth are estimated that 10 to 20 per cent of Canadian youth are at risk for a mental illness or disorder.

This spring, YouthSpeak introduced a new program called Body Mind. It’s a program that is focused around mental health and wellness, physical fitness and nutrition.

Last year, YouthSpeak provided 190 presentations across southern Ontario which reached 38,000 people. By next year, they aim to have 250 and want to reach 45,000 students, parents and educators.

For more information about YouthSpeak programming, contact Una at una@youthspeak.ca