Here's a look back at some of our past Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant recipients:
This month’s Awesome grant will help one small Newmarket school (Kindergarten to Grade 4) to purchase a Tower Garden, an aeroponic indoor growing system for vegetables. “Our hope is to use the Tower Garden in each classroom for specific months during the year,” explains Amy Kitchen, a teacher at the school. “For example, one class would start with the Tower Garden and watch vegetables grow from seeds. They would then be able to harvest however they choose. Students would then be able to create recipes using the vegetables.” Kitchen says it will be a great teaching tool across the curriculum and will help create a sense of teamwork. “Our school is also a ‘Healthy School’ and runs the ‘You're the Chef’ program for Grade 4 students. We thought it would be great if we could pick recipes ahead of time and use the vegetables in some of the recipes.”
Awesome trustee Hollie Hoadley with winners Sharon McLean and Amy Kitchen beside trustees Tracy Walter and Lee Sperry.
What’s awesome? Cool new backpacks filled with awesome stuff, that’s what! The Women's Centre of York Region (WCYR) is our latest grant recipient for their Back to School Backpack drive, now in its 11th year. Last year, 83 kids benefitted from the program. “Many of our clients struggle to make ends meet and often can’t afford back to school items,” explains Payton Chapley, Fundraising and Community Events Coordinator with WCYR. “The program ensures that all children and adult learners have access to the tools they need to be successful in school, and ensure that they start their year with dignity.” Each age appropriate backpack is estimated to cost about $40 and will get distributed in late August.
Payton Chapley (middle) with Awesome trustees Tracy Walter, Jackie Playter, Wasim Jarrah and Hollie Hoadley.
Whatever your age, there’s something pretty incredible about planting a seed and watching it grow. That opportunity is available to children at two Newmarket schools thanks in large part to the efforts of Leanna Reeves, our latest Awesome grant winner. Leanna helped bring the Tower Garden to the school she works at and is using the $1,000 grant to gift a second one to another school. “The Tower Garden is an aeroponic indoor growing system which allows lesson plans to be brought to life,” she says, explaining students are involved from ‘seed to feed’. The children plant the seeds and once they sprout, seedlings are transferred to the Tower Garden where PH levels are monitored. At harvest time, kids can sample the fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs they’ve helped to grow. Tower Gardens bring a unique and rich culture of involvement to the school community and both staff and students love having them there, says Reeves. “The kids are engaged in hands-on learning and become proud of what they grow.” It’s a terrific learning opportunity, she says. “The Tower Garden not only teaches about plants and the power of good nutrition, but about sustainability, business models, initiation and responsibility!” Congratulations, Leanna!
Leanna Reeves (middle) with Awesome trustees (left to right) Tracy Walter, Diane Farmer, Jackie Playter and Wasim Jarrah.
When you’re hungry, learning and absorbing information can be a challenge. That knowledge has led Sarah Kyle, our latest Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant recipient, to launch a Healthy Snacks initiative at the school where she works. The goal, she says, is to provide nutritious snacks to more than 600 children each day. “We work hard as a team to feed the students but have found that the food is gobbled up quite quickly due to hunger,” says Kyle, a Child and Youth Worker. “When the children are faced with an option of a granola bar versus an apple, the children choose the apple but fresh produce is quite pricey for us to provide to kids. We would love to be able to feed the students so they are able to learn, grow and develop healthy lifestyles.” Congratulations!
From left to right: Awesome trustee Diane Farmer with Sarah Kyle and Tracy Walter from the Newmarket Chamber.
Our latest Awesome grant goes to Cedar Centre for their Teen STAIR Group (Skills Training in Affect and Interpersonal Regulation). The Teen STAIR Group is an adapted, evidence-based curriculum that is designed to help reduce symptoms related to post traumatic stress in youth who have experienced abuse-related trauma.
The program is operated by Newmarket-based Cedar Centre which offers therapeutic services for all forms of childhood interpersonal trauma, including historical. The goal is to help youth participants to become informed about the impact of trauma on emotion regulation and social (interpersonal) functioning.
“This group is an important part of service for youth who are participating in individual intensive trauma-specific therapy related to their experience of childhood interpersonal trauma because it provides them with the opportunity to learn and practice skills that are not only foundational to success in therapy, but to the navigation of daily life and interpersonal relationships,” says Alison Peck, Executive Director. “We are most grateful to the Awesome Foundation Newmarket for partnering with us in the delivery of this innovative program for our local youth.”
Left to right: Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah, Juliet Irish, Debra Scott and Diane Farmer with grant recipients Lisa Gleva (Cedar Centre Gala Committee) and Alison Peck seen here with NSD Vixon (Cedar Centre) with trustees Jackie Playter and David Faingold.
Our latest recipient is Youth Speak which holds its 8th annual AWAKE youth drug awareness conference March 1st at Valleyview Alliance Church in Newmarket. Developed for Grade 9 and 10 students in Newmarket and across York Region, the free event brings together community resources such as the York Region Police, 360 Kids and Public Health to give students an opportunity to learn about services in the area and places to turn if they are struggling. Students who can benefit most are selected by their teachers and given the opportunity to participate in the fun and educational day. Along with hearing from Youth Speakers and experts, students enjoy several workshops, including martial arts, dancing and drawing. “The purpose of these workshops is to engage students in activities which teach them positive coping tools and alternatives to unsafe activities,” explains Una Wright, founder of YouthSpeak. “The activities of the day give youth the opportunity to develop leadership skills and build rapport with adult role models such as police, teachers and youth counsellors.”
From left to right: Awesome trustee Jackie Playter, Una Wright (YouthSpeak) and trustee Debra Scott.
There’s no doubt about it—lunch is an important meal. It’s particularly critical for children, who need it to fuel their busy days. For the past 10-plus years, Newmarket High School’s Food for Thought program has been providing lunches to disadvantaged elementary school students who might otherwise go hungry. Made up of a team of 55 student volunteers and two teacher supervisors, each Wednesday the students assemble lunches that are delivered on Thursday mornings. Each lunch contains a sandwich and a snack, including a juice box, an apple, carrots, celery and cookies. Last year, Food for Thought made 1692 sandwiches and 2183 snacks. This school year, the group makes 40 lunches plus an additional six snacks each week, and plans to expand its program to more schools. The program gives those in need access to healthy food, which is a big concern for some families, says Sherry, one of the program’s co-leaders. “It is important to the participants because it relieves financial stress for low-income families.” The benefits of the program also extend to volunteers, she says. “The students take on new responsibilities and gain invaluable leadership experience through assembling the lunches, buying the food and coordinating with sponsors.” Congratulations, Food for Thought!
From left to right: Awesome trustee Debra Scott with Aidan and Sherry (two of Food for Thought’s three co-leaders) and trustees David Faingold, Juliet Irish and Diane Farmer.
What’s awesome? How about STEM at school with STEM-based learning at lunch as well as in-class workshops? That’s what lucky students at one school in Newmarket will receive thanks to our most recent Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant. The partnered initiative put together by grant recipient STEM MINDS, will give students there the opportunity to experience STEM first hand. It eliminates financial constraints—one of the biggest barriers to accessing quality STEM opportunities, says Anu Bidani, founder and CEO of STEM MINDS. The initiative, she says, helps ensure that students, regardless of financial income, are able to participate in programs and opportunities that support and encourage their passions and growth. Some of the opportunities for students will include exploring STEM concepts such as electricity, motors and circuitry, as well as LEGO robotics and coding. Congrats STEM MINDS!
Left to right: Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah and Jackie Playter with Anu Bidani from STEM MINDS and trustees Diane Farmer and Debra Scott.
Congratulations to the latest Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant recipient! The Rainy Day Newmarket Children’s Project helps Newmarket-based children and youth living with the diagnosis of life-threatening illness. Whether it’s through services or funds, the project, run by the Shine Through the Rain Foundation, helps patients and their families with the social/emotional/financial devastation that can occur. “Most people don’t know that pediatric patients are at risk of life-long financial ruin, depression, anxiety and resulting mental health concerns,” says Laurie Docimo, who handles sponsorships and grants for the Foundation. The project, she says, provides on a number of fronts, such as helping with late bills and grocery costs to transportation to medical appointments so children can recover in their own homes. There are also gifts to hospitals and homes to bring smiles and joy to kids as they face what is often a scary hospital experience. Later, there are both camp backpacks and camp scholarships when children are well enough to attend to help them reconnect with peers and return to a normal life. Congratulations Rainy Day Newmarket Children’s Project!
From left to right: Awesome trustees, Jackie Playter and Juliet Irish with Laurie Docimo and trustees Debra Scott and Wasim Jarrah.
Our latest grant goes to the Healthy Youth Preventative Education (HYPE) Program from the John Howard Society of York Region. Available to youth between 13 and 24 both within school settings and at youth drop-in centres, the free program is designed to equip youth with the social and emotional competencies they need to positively engage with others. “Whether it be with dating partners, peers, friends, teachers or family members, youth will be better able to form meaningful, healthy connections in their lives,” says Christin Cullen, Executive Director, John Howard Society of York Region. The HYPE Program is offered in an interactive group setting to support peer engagement and connection. Congrats HYPE!
From left to right: Awesome trustees, Jackie Playter and Diane Farmer with Christin Cullen and trustees David Faingold, Debra Scott and Wasim Jarrah.
You know what's awesome? Arriving to school with a jazzy new backpack filled with all the supplies needed to start the school year off right. This September, 83 kids got to experience that terrific feeling thanks to the “Back to School Backpack Program” by the Women’s Centre of York Region, which received Awesome Foundation Newmarket’s latest grant for the initiative. Women’s Centre of York Region (WCYR) is a non-profit organization that offers low/no-cost programming and services to women who are looking for positive change in their lives.
Kaitlyn Olliff, WCYR Tangible Supports Coordinator, says the team was thrilled about the grant. “The Back to School Program ensures that our clients and their children have access to the tools they need to be successful in starting their school year—with dignity. That is AWESOME!"
From left to right: L to R: Awesome trustees Juliet Irish, Debra Scott and Wasim Jarrah with Kaitlyn Olliff from Women's Centre of York Region and trustee Jackie Playter.
Offered by Character Community, the Slap Shot Hockey Program for Children is a free seven week in-school hockey program developed to reduce social isolation in low income/newcomer children ages 8-12 (Grade 4-6) in York Region. The program, which will be offered at two Newmarket schools this September, provides a safe, inclusive, age-appropriate introduction to the game of hockey and Canadian culture to children whose ability to participate in recreational sport is limited due to financial and cultural barriers. Delivered by an experienced program coach, professional hockey trainers and supported by peer mentors, participants learn the basic skills of the game along with important skills in leadership, character, socialization, teamwork, nutrition, health and the benefit of living an active lifestyle using the game of Floorball. When the in-school sessions are completed, participants travel to a local arena, where they play a game of hockey on ice dressed in full hockey gear with their coaches and CCFYR community volunteers, Including York Regional Police hockey players. Participants receive a jersey, hockey stick and puck to keep so they may continue to play hockey with their peers. The program ends with a celebration pizza and recognition lunch where participants receive a team medallion, photo, watch a video of their on-ice day and discuss their experience in the program.
From left to right: Susanne Cappuccitti, Awesome trustee Juliet Irish, Karen Addison with Awesome trustee Jackie Playter, and Megan Thomas.
Rose of Sharon Services for Young Mothers provides counselling, education and parenting resources to prenatal and parenting young mothers. Lack of transportation is frequently a huge barrier for those looking to access programs at Rose of Sharon, explains Caitlin Gladney-Hatcher, Fund Development Coordinator with Rose of Sharon. The grant, she says, will help offset the costs associated with getting young mothers and their children to and from Rose of Sharon. “Ensuring transportation for young moms may be expensive but it’s an essential key to removing barriers to the help mom and her baby so greatly needs,” says Gladney-Hatcher. Congratulations!
From left to right: Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah Real Estate Group, Juliet Irish with Caitlin Gladney-Hatcher (Rose of Sharon) and trustees Diane Farmer and Jackie Playter.
Our latest grant recipient is Tim Greenwood for the 13 Reasons Why and How to Build Youth Resiliency event. Happening Tuesday, June 13th from 6:30 – 9:30 pm at the Lions Hall Community Centre, the event will bring together youth, parents, grandparents, concerned community members, teachers and professionals around the theme of building and strengthening youth resiliency, says Greenwood. Along with a paneled discussion with audience participation, there will be spoken word performances, a presentation, and more.
From left to right: Awesome trustees Jackie Playter and Sabine Schleese with Tim Greenwood and trustee Diane Farmer.
Our latest grant goes to Girls Inc. of York Region and STEM MINDS who have teamed up with the aim of getting more girls involved in STEM. STEM MINDS will provide quality STEM-based after school programming developed to meet the needs and interests of participants in Girls Inc. programs on an ongoing basis. Opportunities for participants include an introduction to 3D Design and Printing, digital media skills development coding, and robotics. How awesome is that?
From row (from l): Awesome trustees Juliet Irish, and David Faingold with Nicole Myers and Jessica Holmes (Girls Inc.). Middle: Awesome trustees Diane Farmer, Jackie Playter, George H. Smith, Debra Scott and Rebekah (Girls Inc.). Back row: Trustees Brian Sperry, Michael Croxon and Wasim Jarrah.
One of our latest Awesome grants goes to Glenn Marais for The Sacred Canoe, a theatrical production being created in partnership with drummers and elders from Webequie First Nations, Georgina Island and Students and teachers from Sacred Heart CHS. "The message of the play is we can travel together in a canoe of partnership and friendship into a promising future by learning about and from the past," says Glenn. "The partnership will reflect the great partnerships created by early explorers and First Nations people in charting much of the Canadian water system by canoe and establishing the fur trade throughout Canada. As we head towards our Canada 150 Celebrations, this project will recognize and commemorate one of the oldest relationships in our history." Congratulations!
From left to right: Awesome trustees Diane Farmer and Debra Scott with Glenn Marais, and trustees Jackie Playter, Brian Sperry and David Faingold
Congratulations to Megan Dyer, our most recent Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant recipient. Megan is a teacher at a small school in town. The grant, she says, will be used to develop the school’s Modern Learning Commons, a place where students come to explore their creativity using various materials and resources not typically available to them. “We would like to expand our S.T.E.M areas and expose students to new learning opportunities,” she says, adding the school currently has six stations set up for students to choose from. The majority of these stations are geared towards the older children. “We would like the opportunity to expand the number of stations we have and gear these new stations towards the younger students in our school so that we are providing everyone with an equal opportunity to embrace their creativity and take risks learning new technologies.”
From L to R: Awesome trustees Debra Scott and Jackie Playter with Megan Dyer and trustees Diane Farmer and David Faingold.
One of our latest Awesome grant winners is helping to bring more arts to Newmarket. A partnership between Shadowpath Theatre Productions and Gap-Gen, the three-phased project emphasizes engagement by working with youth to co-create meaningful experiences that stretch their minds, bodies, and imaginations. “This awesome project allows art professionals and youth in the Newmarket Community to collaborate in designing and delivering high quality arts education outside of the traditional classroom,” explains Mariette Lee, co-founder of Gap-Gen. The grant will help cover rental fees for Newmarket venues for workshops and performances, as well as marketing materials. Learn more at http://gap-gen.com/theatre-workshops-with-shadowpath/
From left to right: Awesome trustees, Juliet Irish, Debra Scott, Brian Sperry and Diane Farmer (back) with Heather Skoll (Gap-Gen co-founder), Mariette Lee and Peyton Le Barr from Shadowpath Theatre Productions.
We’ve got some Awesome grant winners to tell you about beginning with the Canadian Federation of University Women Aurora/Newmarket Club (CFUW). A not-for-profit women's organization devoted to furthering and empowering education for women and girls, the Club is working with the York Region Children's Aid Society to encourage young wards to stay in high school. “We have worked out a joint program whereby wards in grades 9 and 10 who attend classes regularly, put forth good effort and/or attain academic success are recognized, treated and rewarded with a gift card, diploma, flowers, a party, speeches, etc.” says Lynn Havard, Chair of the Advocacy committee. “We want these young ladies to feel good about themselves and learn to value and appreciate how education is the key to their success as independent adults.” The grant, she says, will go toward supporting and expanding the program. “We would love to be able to give a more substantial financial award to each recipient.” In addition, Havard says the Club wants to be able to help a larger group of high school age wards. “More funding would allow us to do this and hopefully expand the program to male wards, in conjunction with another local service club.”
From left to right: Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah and Diane Farmer with Carolynn Schiller and Lynn Havard (both CFUW), trustee David Faingold, Pat Leeson (CFUW) and trustees Juliet Irish and Debra Scott.
The students at Poplar Bank Public School enjoy a number of clubs and activities, including Crunchy Munchy, a healthy breakfast/snack program which serves 1000 items each week free of charge to students who wish to partake. In hopes of expanding on the program’s success, a group of school volunteers are in the midst of gaining approval from York Region District School Board to build a student garden. Students will help select, grow, maintain and harvest the garden, and produce will supplement the Crunchy Munchy program with surplus going to the Newmarket Food Pantry. “Our goal is to encourage lifelong healthy eating habits, teach a skill students can use for life and encourage them to be responsible citizens within their community,” says Veronica Jouaneh, volunteer garden coordinator for the Poplar Bank Student Garden. The grant money, she says, will be used to purchase construction materials such as wood, soil and drainage materials once the approvals process is completed this spring. “The $1000 will allow us to build two out of the proposed four beds, which has the students very excited; they've already been growing items from seeds in anticipation of our garden!”
From L to R: Awesome trustees, Debra Scott, Diane Farmer and Jackie Playter with Nadia, Veronica and Kate, and trustees David Faingold and Wasim Jarrah.
September 2016: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
A big congrats to We Are: A Safe Place - LGBTQ youth for their recent Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant. We Are is an initiative of St. James the Apostle Anglican Church in Sharon, Ont. Open to people of all faiths, the new program is geared toward LGBTQ youth and their family and friends. “The funding will be used to make our space appealing to young people, purchase equipment to facilitate conversation and community building and help us advocate for others,” says Reverend Erin Martin, who founded the program with Kit Woods with help from Beth Ferkranus and Janice Hodgson.
Left to right: Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah and Michael Croxon with Kit Woods, Beth Ferkranus and Erin Martin (all from We Are) and trustees Jackie Playter, Juliet Irish and Debra Scott.
Congrats to the 94 Air Cadet Squadron —the latest Awesome grant recipient. The grant will be put toward its seniors’ weekend retreat taking place at the end of the month, explains Tara Lauzon, Secretary of the Squadron Sponsorship Committee (SSC) who says the senior cadets (ages 15 and up) play a vital role in the effective functioning of the Squadron. “To start off each training year, the Seniors of 94 Squadron meet for a full weekend to refresh their survival skills, set goals for the year, learn new instructional techniques, and have a bit of fun at the same time.”
Front row: (L to R): Awesome trustees Debra Scott, David Faingold, Sabine Schleese with Michele Tirone and Tara Lauzon (both SSC) and trustee Jackie Playter. Back row: Awesome trustees Juliet Irish, Diane Farmer and Wasim Jarrah.
July 2016: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
Congratulations to Commons Coffee & Catering—Awesome Foundation Newmarket’s latest grant recipient. You may recognize the Commons crew from the Farmers Market where they serve up their delicious coffee and treats every Saturday. Part of the grant will help them continue to be there by covering the cost of the rental van they need each week, says Susan Popper, director/volunteer manager and founder of Commons Coffee and Catering. It will also, she says, help with purchasing some equipment for catering jobs, as well as a new tent and an espresso machine. “It will put us closer to our aim of raising $4000. We have had some donations and garage sale and plan to hopefully organize a fundraising concert or other fundraising activities.”
June 2016: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
Our June grant recipient is BridgeNorth, a community program based in York Region, dedicated to helping commercially sexually exploited women and children exit the sex industry and build healthy lives. “This means that more young people can have access to practical supports through BridgeNorth; and that girls already in the program can continue to access long term counselling services that are vital to their recovery and healing,” says Casandra Diamond, Founder and Director of BridgeNorth.
The grant, she says, will be used in a number of ways. “It will help to provide crisis care and reintegration services to young persons in York Region by providing much needed counselling services, clothing, food and toiletries.”
Pictured here (L to R): Awesome trustee Diane Farmer, BridgeNorth's Casandra Diamond and Sarah Joy Herzog-Masci, with trustees Jackie Playter, Juliet Irish and David Faingold.
April 2016: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
Congrats to 94 Newmarket Optimist Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron for receiving April’s Awesome grant. A fixture in the Newmarket area for more than 50 years, the Squadron gives youth the opportunity to learn valuable skills, such as personal development and leadership, aviation, drill, survival training, and music, says Tara Lauzon, Secretary of the Squadron Sponsorship Committee (SSC). “Cadets give back to their community by participating in Remembrance Day ceremonies and other community service activities, including working with local veterans groups such as the Newmarket and Bradford branches of the Royal Canadian Legion.” Lauzon says the grant will be used to purchase things like supplies for the Pipe and Drum Band at the squadron.
Pictured here (L to R): Awesome trustees Neil Stratton, and Juliet Irish, with Tara Lauzon, Awesome trustee Jackie Playter, James Scott (SSC), and Awesome trustees Diane Farmer, Debra Scott and Michael Croxon.
March 2016: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
Congratulations Project Autism! The York Region branch is the latest grant recipient for their “I Can” Initiative, a program designed to increase social interaction, and learning and development for autistic children and youth. The program inspires creativity, curiosity and encourage hidden talents with a variety of fun, interactive classes, says Anne Mason, President and Founder of Project Autism - York Region. “It is an opportunity for social interaction and fun in a completely accepting environment.” The programs are free thanks to the generosity of volunteers. Though geared towards those on the autism spectrum, programs are open to any special needs children regardless of diagnosis.
February 2016: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
A big congrats to Malka Snobel, our latest Awesome grant winner. Malka is a teacher at a small school in Newmarket, and the grant will go toward starting up a new LEGO club there. The club, she says, will provide hands-on learning and give students the opportunity to enjoy an after-school activity.
Pictured here (L to R): Awesome trustees Diane Farmer and Debra Scott with winner Malka Snobel, Michael Croxon, Jackie Playter, Neil Stratton and David Faingold.
January 2016: Gardening in Kindergarten
Congratulations to Stacey Taylor, our latest Awesome grant recipient. A kindergarten teacher in Newmarket, Stacey is helping her students learn the importance of cultivating plants, specifically food plants. “They will be able to grow plants from seeds and seedlings, learning what plants need to grow and thrive. By growing food plants (carrots, potatoes, lettuce, etc.) they will develop an appreciation of the hard work that goes into producing the food they eat, as well as understand components and benefits of healthy eating.”
November 2015: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
The latest Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant goes to Rachel Stewart for The Buddy Bench project! The idea, she says, was sparked when she noticed a colourful bench in her son's school yard. Rather than just a place to sit, the bench is a spot for kids to go when they have nobody to play with or feel lonely. Rachel says her own son has used the bench. “He said, ‘When I was new I sat there and someone came to me and asked me to play. I felt happy. And now when I see kids on it, I ask them to play with me… We all do.’” Rachel's goal is to see a buddy bench in every school yard across York Region.
Pictured here (L to R): Awesome trustees Michael Croxon, Lily Galati, Debra Scott, Diane Farmer with winner Rachel Stewart, and trustees Jackie Playter, Sabine Schleese, Juliet Irish, David Faingold, Neil Stratton and Wasim Jarrah.