Posts Tagged ‘youth’

Inspiring the next generation of do-gooders through books | @Strong_Start #12Days4Good

December 17, 2016

Books are pretty magical. They can transport us to faraway places, they can introduce us to new ways of thinking and living, and they can be “mirrors” to help us better understand our own experiences. We’ve all been moved by a powerful story, and take lessons from each and every book we read. For children in particular, books can be a useful tool in helping them understand important topics, giving complex ideas age appropriate context. Books can be used to teach children about the world we live in, and how they can bring kindness into our world.  

It’s incredibly important that we help our children develop empathy and understanding of the lives others live. Stories allow us to walk a mile in another person’s shoes, as we connect with memorable characters and experience the emotions they feel. The themes behind this year’s 12 Days 4 Good provide a perfect opportunity to talk with your child about these important life lessons. From teaching compassion and inclusion, to hope and opportunity, there is a story out there that can support you and your little one.

As our way of giving back, our team has collected some of the best picture and story books to help you start a conversation with your child on these powerful topics. Every day, we will be posting our top story pick on our blog, along with a small act of kindness you and your family can do to benefit the community. By getting involved, your child will learn they can make a difference, and that their actions do matter. Together, through stories, we will inspire the next generation of community leaders, giving them the tools they need to do-good.

We invite you to follow along with our journey, and connect with us by visiting:  – The Strong Start Team



The Leaders of Tomorrow – the Girls in Your Community

May 12, 2014

Joe Cramer at Kingsdale Community Centre House of Friendship Girls Leadership Group

Teamwork, friendship, energy, laughter and learning together – these are the words that stand out to me after attending the Girls Leadership Group at the Kingsdale Community Centre.

Despite the fact that I was a stranger to the group, the girls were very friendly and eager to include me into all the activities of the evening. After brief introductions and everyone taking turns sharing recent personal events or reflections, the girls set to work making a cucumber mango salad and a berry yogurt smoothie. Working together, the girls supported each other, asking one another questions along the way (like what is a mango?), and checking in with the group leader, Tracy, for help along the way. When finished, they sat down to enjoy their snack and work on a craft before cleaning up for the night.

“I tell my parents and my family what we do each week. I wish I could do this everyday!”

In a time where many adolescent girls struggle to establish who they are and what they believe, The Girls Leadership Group helps put together the pieces in facilitating their self learning and discovery. It’s a great approach to encourage girls to get involved in their local community, to prepare them for the years ahead, and to develop lasting friendships.

The Leadership Group is one of the many groups coordinated by the community centre, which has been running for approximately three years with funding from the United Way. Within each 13-week session there is a focus on helping young girls, aged 11 to 14, become strong leaders and self-advocates to achieving their dreams, and to work on making an impact on the world around them. Each week young women meet to share in new experiences, learn to become more confident and open with others, and establish new relationships. There is no cost to participants; however the benefits are endless.

“I used to be shy, but I met my best friend here. I’m not afraid to be myself anymore.”

Listening to the details that each girl was willing to share during circle time made it quickly evident that this group has developed a sense of closeness and trust in one another. For example, one girl was able to confide in the group about a sick relative and the emotional impact that possibly losing this person would have on her life. However for tonight she was able to leave that stress behind and focus on herself by having fun with the group. Tracy, the group leader, said that this is one of the many things that make this group great: the girls feel comfortable to allow you to share in their life story; but they give themselves the chance to do something positive for themselves and strengthen their friendships each week.

“You’ll find a way to fit in here! Despite the diversity in the group, everyone is able to find a commonality and I call them all my friends.”

GiL (19). Turkey driveJPGNone of the girls know what they’ll walk into before they attend: it could be focused on self-learning, trying a new food, doing a craft, playing a game, or practicing a skill – but it’s never the same thing twice! They have even participated in a number of volunteer events like the Turkey Drive and Potato Blitz. There are only a few things that are consistent week after week: the high energy that each girl brings; the group focus on positive social interaction and overall healthy living; and sharing in a healthy snack together.

While visiting the program, it was clear to see the impact of the program on each of the girls. Each one isn’t just coming to spend time with their friends; they keep coming because they have a lot of passion and want to make a difference in the world. Many of the girls said they’re planning to go to college or university one day. One specifically mentioned wanting to help people through addictions; and that this group has helped her begin to understand how we become who we are. Another wants to become a social worker because they look forward to becoming the type of person that others can talk to about their problems and struggles.

In conversation one participant shared that “this group makes me live happier…sometimes I get bullied at school, but then I come here and I can learn and have fun with friends.” Another participant followed up with “More people should come!”

If you know someone who is interested in participating in the program they can do so by calling the Kingsdale Community Centre at 519-741-2540 or by registering for the program on the City of Kitchener’s website here using program code 157726 .

Volunteers and guest speakers are always welcome, as are donations of grocery store gift cards to help provide healthy snacks.


How high can you leap?

February 8, 2012

February 29 is a day that you don’t get to enjoy very often.  That’s because it only shows up every four years (for most people that is, usually… it’s kind of complicated. There’s more info here). Why do we get to enjoy it in 2012?

It’s a leap year!

What would you do with an extra day in the calendar?  Well, a local teen, named Madi, asked herself this, and wondered if everyone would really appreciate it.  Would it be an extra day of joy, or just another day of struggle?

Madi says: “Through the good and the bad, it always helps to know that someone cares about you.”  She wanted to show that an extra day is something for everyone to celebrate and decided to find 29 ways to prove it.  So, she started a social media campaign to share the idea and get out an important and powerful message: showing others that you care is important and easy to do.

Everything you do for others, no matter how big or small makes a difference for all of us.

If you made a resolution this year to pitch in and help others, this is your chance!

It could be 29 cans of food at your local grocery store donation bin.  It could be 29 kind words to strangers you pass in the street.  29 cents, 29 dollars – you decide how much you want to do and for whom.  But, be sure to share!

You can check out Madi’s campaign on her webpage, youtube channel, twitter and facebook page.  Not sure how you can help?  There are tips, examples and lots of info on ways to take 29 leaps towards a better community.

If you want to take part in this fantastic push to do good for others, consider sharing some of your time this Saturday with House of Friendship’s Potato Blitz.  We are still looking for volunteers!  You can find out more details here or by calling Jenn at 519-742-8327 extension 0.  Help us reach our goal of 200,000lbs of potatoes!

How youth can Pitch In during 12days

December 13, 2011

Why work for no pay?  Why lend someone a hand for no immediate benefit?

Not everything can be measured in how many dollars it gets into your pocket, and not all the good things in the world are immediately obvious.

Yesterday, we were talking about the tremendous food drive that Rockway Mennonite organizes each year.  Students, their families and the entire school work together to get food to people who need it during the month of December.  On top of this, they also visited our Christmas Hamper warehouse to sing to the many volunteers packing and picking up hampers of food to be shared with the less fortunate residents of Waterloo and Kitchener.

Rockway students pitch in with a little music for the Christmas Hamper volunteers

Today is the fourth day of our Pitch in for 12Days campaign, an effort to get everyone possible to lend a hand in some way, and help others during the month of December.  If you’re a young person in the region, you will soon have some free time on your hands as you enjoy your christmas break.   Why not spend a little bit of it volunteering?  There people like the Volunteer Action Centre who are happy to help you find the right volunteer job – you can find them on the web and even look through available jobs on their website here.

The rewards of volunteering are many.   If you’re a student, volunteer experience can help you learn about different issues in the community, they can also provide you a reference that you can use to get your first job, or even learn more about what interests you and help you decide what higher education to pursue once you graduate.

Looking for a little inspiration?  Why not check out local radio personality Carlos, who is doing 30 deeds in 30 days.  What is this all about?  Well, it’s an epic journey of volunteering that he is detailing on his blog here.  Each day he goes to a different place and pitches in.  You can read more about him soon, because he is going to help us share some turkeys this coming Saturday.  Recently, he visited our friends St. John’s and you can read all about it here.

So are you ready to pitch in yet?  By volunteering you help yourself and others, and make our part of the world a little nicer.  Are you the kind of person that thinks big?  Why not check out something like Katimavic? You can see the country and make a big difference.

So think about it.  You can let us know what you’re doing by tweeting at @HOFKW and by liking us on Facebook.  Be the change you want to see in the community and help Pitch In!

Building a Community – One Young Soul at a Time

July 29, 2010

“Young”, “vibrant” and “energetic” were the first words that projected into my head when Lianna and I arrived at the Courtland-Shelley Community Centre. It’s not a typical community centre like YMCA, nor a two million dollar facility that you visit for your weekly workout. Low-key and modest, the centre sits among a neighbourhood of 69 townhouses, only distinguishable through its sign that reads “Courtland-Shelley Community Centre.” (more…)