Presenting: The Scadding Court Community Centre Uses International Travel and Cross-Cultural Learning to Help At-Risk Youth

Sometimes you come across individuals or organizations who quietly do phenomenal work in the community right here under our noses, without any big fanfare.

Through my work with G.A.P Adventures, the feature sponsor of our First Travel Story Contest, I became aware of a community organization called the Scadding Court Community Centre (SCCC) which is located in a multi-ethnic low income neighbourhood in Toronto that experiences a variety of social problems.

This past Christmas, G.A.P sponsored a Christmas celebration that provided 200 local children with a delicious home-cooked Christmas meal and presents, a perfect example of a wonderful collaboration between a private-sector business and a non-profit community group for the benefit of the local residents.

SCCC has come up with a number of highly innovative initiatives that benefit young people in its neighbourhood who might otherwise have had a bleak outlook on the future. These programs provide at-risk teenagers with international learning opportunities that literally change their lives. The teenagers get involved in charity projects abroad, for example, in India where they help children living with disabilities as well as children of sex trade workers.

SCCC sends young people to places like Mongolia, India and China where they undergo intense cross-cultural learning and personal growth experiences. And Scadding Court Community Centre also does wonderful work right here in Toronto to help the community and create more cross-cultural understanding.

Through its own fundraising initiatives, Scadding Court Community Centre even provides significant scholarships and bursaries to local disadvantaged youth and gives “at-risk” youth a great start to a better future.

Lion Dance in front of Toronto City Hall

Kevin Lee, Executive Director of the Centre, is here to talk about the important work that his organization does:

1. Please tell us a bit about your community centre. Where is it located, when was it founded and what type of programs does it offer?

Scadding Court Community Centre was incorporated on March 21st, 1975 and is a multi-facetted organization serving a high-density neighbourhood in downtown west Toronto. Programs are targeted to under-serviced, culturally diverse groups such as low-income families, at-risk children and youth, newcomers, people living with disabilities, seniors and the un/underemployed.

Scadding Court’s mandate is:
“To support and foster the well being of individuals, families, and community groups by providing and encouraging both local and international opportunities for recreation, education, athletics, community participation and social interaction”.

Toronto youth & the Dalai Lama

Between 500 and 600 people visit the Centre each day to participate in programs and services, or just to socialize. Scadding Court has always been at the forefront of community development in Toronto. Over the past two decades, SCCC has provided a range of activities, programs and services to meet the diverse needs of the local community. We specialize in Recreation, Children and Youth Services and Urban Development. Some of the programs we offer include:

• Settlement Services for Newcomers to Canada: Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP), free tax clinics, information and referral, ESL classes, informal counselling and educational workshops
• Childcare: Emergency and Occasional Childcare Program, Indoor Park
• School Readiness workshops for newcomer children and their families
• After School Program: computers, drama, arts, environmental fun club, sports, swimming
• Drama Interact Program: for young people living with disabilities
• Swim and Social: for people living with mental and physical disabilities
• Anti-racism community building initiatives: including anti-racism through theatre, workshops and 2 $4000 scholarships.
• Community Attendance Program: for students struggling in the regular school system
• Recreation and Fitness: activities include swimming, hockey, basketball, soccer, badminton, skating, tai-chi, volleyball and weight-lifting
• Preserving Our Health Community Garden and Urban Agriculture Project: for people with low-incomes
• Scadding Court Cross-Cultural Health Services Clinic: on-site primary care clinic staffed by two Mandarin-speaking physicians, Cervical Cancer Prevention Project, eye-screening clinics for seniors

All of SCCC’s programs and services benefit from partnerships with neighbouring schools, community organizations and institutions equally committed to improving the health and well being of the community.

Dundas Day: a local community celebrates

2. Please tell us about the community you serve.

The immediate community is made up of an extremely culturally diverse, low-income and high-risk population. Up to 15 different cultural groups are represented in the community. In terms of income-level, however, there is less variation: the residents of this community are low-income. What community residents share is facing multiple barriers to accessing services and opportunities within and outside their immediate community.

Population groups that stand out in our community:
• low-income families (with a high proportion of single parent/caregiver families)
• children
• youth
• seniors
• newcomers to Canada, many of whom speak limited or no English

Almost 2000 residents live in 410 units of housing (townhouses and apartment buildings) bordered by Dundas Street to the north, Queen Street to the south, Spadina Ave. to the east and Augusta Avenue to the west.

Toronto youth experience India

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