Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Club
Amanda Neale-Robinson, Manager of Sponsorship, Events and Fund Development
416-8925-2243 ext. 182
Charitable number: 107573149RR0001
About this organization
Working with young people and their families, we enable them to develop the life skills, knowledge and civic-values essential to becoming healthy contributing individuals. We focus on the critical after-school hours, on the importance of adult‐youth mentorship, and on creating safe, inclusive, respectful and engaging environments.
History of Organization
The Kiwanis Club of Toronto established the Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Clubs (TKBGC) in 1921. We have since helped approximately 50,000 children and youth from downtown Toronto East / Cabbagetown / Regent Park.
Many of our members come from at-risk families where safety is a concern. Our members can suffer from a lack of self-esteem, poor nutrition, poverty, lack of schooling, absent parents and are at high risk for drug-related activity.
The main facility of the Club, a church built in 1921 at 101 Spruce St., was purchased in 1939. The last major capital improvements were thirty years ago. After 90 years and 50,000 pairs of feet, this warm place is showing its age and the club house has been temporarily closed for a $6,000,000 renovation. TKBGC incorporated as a not-for profit organization, separate from the Kiwanis Club of Toronto in 1992. The age of membership ranges from 6 to 24 to match the special needs of local youth.
TKBGC now serves1,100 “at risk” children and youth per year at nine sites across Toronto (including seven in Regent Park); five days per week from 3pm to 9pm., and some nights until 10 pm. for youth programs.
Accolades and Accomplishments
TKBGC has developed numerous program models adopted by Boys & Girls Clubs across Canada.
A recent example is when in 2004, as a result of a significant increase in gun violence in the Regent Park community, TBKBC established the Safewalk Home Program. There were nine shootings in Regent Park that summer and parents fearfully shut their kids inside to protect them from the outside world. Since the program began - 300 children per day are now walked from their schools to our community programs, and then brought home safely by local responsible youth who are trained and supervised by the Club – each and every night.
The Club is the largest employer of youth in Regent Park. They are hired “walkers” and value this opportunity as a first job, learning about responsibilities and making “on the spot” decisions.
Another first of TKBGC is the dedicated Youth Floor at the Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Clubs, Miles and Kelly Nadal Youth Centre located at 101 Spruce Street. This will be the first dedicated place for youth (ages 13-19) living in Regent Park. Previously, the only other after-school options for teenagers remain as hanging out at home or at friends, in stairwells or on the streets.
After 74 years we had to close the Clubhouse in the winter of 2010 in order to begin a badly needed $6,000,000 redevelopment of the 101 Spruce Street facility. We have already secured $3,000,000 in matching grants including $2,000,000 million from the Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) Program in Ontario and the Ontario Recreation Program (Ontario REC), and $1,000,000 from The Kiwanis Club of Toronto Foundation. With $3,000,000 in new support we will re-open in the spring, 2012. New support can be pledged over three to five years and will be matched by current funders. Lowes Canada kicked of the campaign with a $100,000 donation to fund the new kitchen! Learn more about the campaign here.
The new space will allow the club to double the number of kids that it helps – the next 50,000 kids from Regent Park.
Activities and programs that promote physical, creative, educational and social development through learning and social interaction. Our children and youth programs operate from the first day of school in September through to the last day of school in June. A summer camp is also provided for children. Key components are nutrition first, then literacy, computer skills and homework, physical activity and creative arts. Homework completion is a guiding principle of each member’s daily visit.
Youth programs continue the emphasis on academic achievement and reflect the emotional needs and growth of Regent Park teenagers.
We adapt to the needs of our members and respond to opportunities when made available. As such our newest priorities range from being a lead participant in local gang prevention programs to investing $6,000,000 to redevelop the facility.
We play a key role in the health of the next 50,000 children and youth in the most vulnerable families of downtown Toronto.
The redevelopment of TKBGC reflects the expansion of Regent Park where the children’s population is projected to double from 5,000 to 10,000.
The Children’s After School program for 6 to 13-year olds introduces TKBGC members to a variety of activities and programs that promote physical, creative, educational, and social development through learning and play. This program operates from the first day of school in September through to the last day of school in June. A Summer Camp program is also provided.
Children are divided into groups by age and participate in a daily rotation of planned activities that starts with a nutritious snack followed by homework (mandatory), physical and creative activities, and a quiet games time.
The Literacy for Life Program is provided in partnership with Frontier College. We provide a quiet atmosphere for members to learn basic literacy skills through reading, storytelling, word activities and games. Other options include computer skills, recreation activities in the gym, arts and craft, gardening club, public speaking, and chess.
Research demonstrates the importance and benefit of programs that supplement the education system, particularly among children living in high-risk environments.
Our children and youth improve their academic standing compared to those not attending after-school programs, and parents of our members are truly relieved when they see the joy of success on their children’s faces. But more to the point; it is the life-changing experiences that alumni of the boys & girls clubs describe. In an Ipsos-Reid pole (2005) “69% of alumni remarked that their experience at a Boys & Girls Club “saved their life.”
With new funding, we can rebuild the building that has already helped 50,000 children… and help 50,000 more.
Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program
“After-school programs make a critical difference in safety and skill development: In the higher-risk hours between 3 and 6 PM, unsupervised children are more likely to engage in gang-related or delinquent behaviour, or become victims of crime.” (Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2009)
The Children’s After School program for 6 to 13-year olds introduces TKBGC members to a variety of activities and programs that promote physical, creative, educational, and social development through learning and play.
A little refugee girl wouldn’t participate or speak a word for her first few weeks. She was new to Canada, Toronto, and TKBGC. Our staff and volunteers worked patiently and lovingly with her. They “met her where she was emotionally”...and then she finally opened up... Then she quickly became the first kid to arrive at TKBGC after school. She became one of our most chatty, enthusiastic & cheerful members… and then she began to apply herself at school.
Activities a donation will support
Donations are encouraged at all levels but in order to meet match-funding targets, the following 20-year naming opportunities are offered as 3-5 year pledges. Those on the Children’s Floor of the redeveloped 101 Spruce St. Clubhouse (to be re-opened in Spring, 2012) include:
- Gymnasium - $300,000
- Music/Recording & Dance Studios - $200,000
- Junior Arts - $100,000
- Junior Games Room - $100,000
- Technology Centre - $100,000
- Learning/Library - $100,000
There are already 50,000 success stories about the impact of supporting TKBGC. A summary of an alumni study conducted by The Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada gives measurement to the value of investing in our clubs as:
- 97% say their experience with the clubs has made them better off today
- 73% say their involvement with the clubs helped them avoid trouble with the law
- 95% say that their club provided them with valuable skills for life
- 69% say their involvement with the clubs really saved their life
Donors can help build a new environment for the next 50,000 children.
Currently there is no supervised space in Regent Park for youth to go after school or during the evenings. The new 4th floor made available to them by TKBGC will be their first space dedicated to their specific needs. Studies have shown that mentorship and recreation are valuable experiences through which youth can grow and learn. These forms of ‘development’ are integral goals of the TKBGC youth program.
Activities on the 4th floor will create an environment in which young people are fostered to successfully move beyond childhood and into the world of adulthood and greater independence. It will be a place that they can call their own and learn from adults and peers. Approximately 250 youth-members are expected to benefit from these programs every week. Youth-led activities may include physical and academic pursuits, or workshops like resume writing or “dealing with problems in my family.”
It is known that youth have seven developmental needs that should be met in order to prepare for adulthood. Program Objectives: a sense of achievement and self-definition, physical activity and creative expression, understanding of structure and clear limits through positive interactions with trained peers and caring adults. And finally a sense of meaningful participation will help our youth to develop a desire to be part of the ‘real’ adult world, and accept responsibilities within their roles in society. We build a sense of competence, self-control and satisfaction in teenagers.
Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program
“There are twice as many youth gangs in 2000 – an estimated 100 to 160. Gangs actively recruit within high schools, and attract members as young as 13.” (Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2009)
TKBGC’s youth program will create an environment in which young people are fostered to successfully move beyond childhood and into the world of adulthood and greater independence. It will be a place that they can call their own and learn from adults and peers. In doing so, children and youth will take part in creating a safer and healthier community.
I was ten years old when my elementary school was shut down. Forced to attend a larger school nearby, I had a hard time adjusting to my new surroundings. I was shy and very intimidated by the other students and new environment. To help me get through it, my mom signed me up for the Toronto Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club after school program. I took part in many different activities and programs such as cooking & nutrition club, applied scholastics, floor hockey and other house leagues, art club, and girls group. The Kiwanis Club became my new favourite place to be. I continued to be a member throughout my early teens, taking part in the youth drop in programs like graphic design, computer skills and the leadership club. When I was seventeen, I was nominated and chosen to be the representative for the Toronto Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club on the Provincial Youth Council. While I didn’t know it at the time, my experiences at the Club ultimately shaped who I am. Today, I am succeeding in school and in life.
Currently in fourth year Honours History and Sociology at York University, my plan is to teach. I am grateful to the Toronto Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club. It is truly “a great place to be”! - Kelly
Activities a donation will support
Donations are encouraged at all levels but in order to meet match-funding targets, the following 20-year naming opportunities are offered as 3-5 year pledges. Those on the new Youth Floor of the redeveloped 101 Spruce St. club house (to be re-opened in Spring, 2012) include:
- Youth Centre - $500,000
- Youth Arts Room - $75,000
- Computer Room - $75,000
- Youth Games Area - $250,000
- Rock Climbing Wall - $25,000
Regent Park teenagers and young adults will have a stronger sense of who they are as individuals, with strengthened resilience skills and leadership potential. They will be better prepared for job interviews and employment opportunities, and for when applying for scholarships.
TKBGC has a major role in managing their transition from youth to adulthood; bridging the gap to a life of maturity and independence.