Albion Boys & Girls Club Summer Camp

Imisi (second from left), Kwaku (3rd from left) and friends at the Albion Boys & Girls Club Summer Camp.

Making summer more than just fun

Summers for Imisi Oragesin and Kwaku Agyemang didn’t used to be all that exciting.

“I would be doing nothing,” admits Kwaku. “I was really bored.”

His friend, Imisi, agrees. “Most of the time I was just hanging around the community centre with my friends.”

But things changed when the two friends began attending the Albion Boys & Girls Club Summer Camp. Offered to kids ranging in age from six to 15 years old in the inner suburban neighbourhood of Jamestown, it’s one of the few summer programs available to kids in the area.

“There are a lot of families that don’t have the resources to send their kids to camp,” explains Khudaija Sheikh, program manager for United Way member agency Albion Neighbourhood Services, the agency that runs the camp. “And there aren’t a lot of options even if they did.”

Focus on Youth, a partnership between Ontario’s Ministry of Education, Toronto school boards and United Way, supports the camp by opening the school where the camp is hosted for community use during the summer months, offers summer employment for disadvantaged youth and provides programming support. In 2010, thanks to the generosity of United Way Toronto donors, Imisi and Kwaku were two of almost 3,500 children and youth who benefited from over 700 Focus on Youth programs.

In addition to giving campers opportunities to develop leadership and mentoring skills through the Leaders in Training component, the camp also has an enrichment program. Every week, kids attend literacy, robotics and health and wellness classes. All three were identified by the community as priorities in a survey handed out at the end of the camp.

“The majority of children and youth in the neighbourhood don’t have access to resources in the summer that would support their academic performance,” says Khudaija. “Parents recognized that their kids were typically losing two months of grade level and literacy skills. These programs help close that achievement gap.”

It’s this experience that is setting them up for future success, helping them stay in school, graduate, and in some cases, go on to college or university.

For Imisi, he sees his future as a computer engineer. For Kwaku, he’s got more detailed plans.

“I want to graduate in political science. I want to get a psychology degree, too. And probably something in engineering,” he explains. “Oh, and I want Khudaija’s job.”

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