Published: May 9, 2011
On May 5, 2011, community leaders, neighbours, students, and youth workers gathered inside the St. Helen Community Centre on Britannia Street in Hamilton, Ontario to hear about the exciting activities taking place at CORE and to tour their facility.
CORE, Community Agencies Reaching Everyone, is an innovative Hamilton Community initiative involving College, University, and Community Agency groups and individuals, and is a programme being put together guided by current policy initiatives about children, education, and mental health. The CORE program is designed to engage youth in meaningful activities while learning through the arts. It will allow current secondary school students to achieve high school credit in these areas as well as re-engage returning students, which will lead to reduced school dropout rates and will have a positive impact on poverty reduction for Hamilton.
— Photo courtesy of dmLane
The novel approach of CORE is not to tell students what to study but rather ask them what they are interested in learning, find out how the CORE staff can help them and then work together to develop a plan to achieve their goal. This self-directed style of learning is having clear and positive results with the students and with others who have the opportunity to witness the passion and enjoyment coming from these students.
This initial group of CORE Youth, who will definitely be moving on to greater successes, presented to Open House attendees the projects they chose to work on and shared experiences gained during their time with the program. Such projects included researching and learning about effective ways of developing basketball skills and then preparing lesson plans to teach these skills to Grade 7 and 8 students; developing culinary skills through learning about the art of food preparation and serving techniques and then dazzled visitors with delicious and beautifully presented appetizers; and learning through photography what it means to create an image or capture the mood of Hamilton and it's neighbourhoods.
In addition to showcasing their work, this group of impressive teens put together a presentation referred to as "Silencing the Red" in response to the Hamilton Spectator Code Red series on poverty in Hamilton. This presentation touched on the challenges these youth face growing up in this city and it stressed the importance of a community working together to overcome those challenges. It seems they are not alone in this belief either. Guest speakers consisting of individuals and representatives of community organizations talked about their belief that it is a community's effort that will ensure a positive future for its youth, its neighbourhoods, and its city. Guest speakers included Gilles Fontaine of Banyan Community Services, Patricia Amos, Director of Education for the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board, Sheldon Francis, former OUA Wrestler, McMaster University, and Gina Browne, Director of Systems of Prevention and Care, McMaster University.
The determination to make a difference does not end with this Open House. The CORE Youth are taking "Silencing the Red" seriously and will be hosting their very own art exhibit at the upcoming James Street North Art Crawl on June 10th, 2011.
It is apparent that these Youth have discovered something extremely valuable while enrolled at CORE and it will be this community's support of them, and of future CORE Youth that will ensure continued successes of not only this group of individuals but of the groups that follow in their foot-steps.