Photo 1: Yonathan Abraham, 19, resident of TCHC in the Scarborough area.
Fourteen TCHC youth travelled to Ottawa recently to play basketball with youth from Ottawa Community Housing.
The game, which took place at Carleton University’s multi-purpose gymnasium, aimed to provide likeminded youth with the opportunity to learn from one another, share their experiences and inspire others while playing basketball.
Following the game, the youth were treated to inspiring presentations by notable personalities, including former NFL player Christo Bilukidi, Ottawa City Councillor Mathieu Fleury, Ottawa Housing CEO Stéphane Giguère, and Angela Cooke, Vice President, Resident and Community Services, TCHC.
The Ottawa trip was a first-of-its-kind for many of the TCHC youth. It was an amazing holiday gift and a wonderful way to wrap up the Midnight Madness Basketball winter season.
“It was truly a special moment for us. We all had a great time,” said Yonathan Abraham. “We met with some incredible people. I learned something new about being an active citizen and the importance of voting.”
Yonathan is a first-year kinesiology student at York University. He is passionate about playing basketball and dreams of securing a scholarship that will help him to continue his postsecondary education, debt-free. He would also like to travel to various North American and European cities to play basketball.
In the meantime, Yonathan is excited to explore new interests, particularly getting involved in activities that benefit his local community. For example, Yonathan is looking forward to voting, for the first time, in the next provincial and municipal elections. It’s a good start for a young man who, before now, says he was more interested in playing basketball than thinking about the long-term impacts of government policies or legislation on him or anyone else.
“Before this trip, I never thought voting meant anything important. I know that my parents do vote and I thought well, that’s good enough,” Yonathan said. “After listening to the representative of the United Nations Association in Canada and Statistics Canada speak about the benefits of voting, I thought it would be a good way to empower myself.”
Photo 2: TCHC youth, staff and other guests at a presentation about the United Nations Global Goals program.
TCHC Vice President, Angela Cooke, says she wants to encourage more partnerships with agencies that share common interests in housing and youth engagement. She believes such partnerships help youth to discover themselves and become better citizens.
“It is remarkable how things can change in a short amount of time given the right conditions and circumstances,” said Angela. “What makes an event like the weekend trip to Ottawa a big success is the exposure and lessons learned by the youth on and off the basketball court.”
Photo 3: TCHC youth and staff in front of the Canadian Parliament buildings in Ottawa.
TCHC organizes more than 20 youth-focused programs each year. The programs help young men and women living in TCHC communities to live a healthy lifestyle, engage in their community, learn important life skills and connect to career advancement opportunities.
So what is Yonathan looking forward to in the New Year?
He plans to play more basketball and dreams to travel to Ottawa again — this time, for a chance to meet the Prime Minister!