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Malvern youth get a second chance

Centennial College is making a world of difference in the lives of a group of Malvern youth who had taken the college up on its offer of free skills training this summer. For some of the participants, the summer courses were their first positive educational experience.
Some 70 youth participated in Centennial College's Malvern project, which reached out to "at-risk" youth living in the Malvern community of Scarborough this summer. Pictured with the graduating class are Ontario Chief Justice Roy McMurtry, Centennial College President Ann Buller and Mayor David Miller (top row, centre).

Some 70 youth, aged 11 to 29, attended classes in Afro-Caribbean drumming, audio and video production, a car care clinic, air conditioning and refrigeration, as well as quick courses in standard first aid and basic rescuer.

The summer courses were part of Toronto Mayor David Miller's Community Safety Plan, designed to bring programs to idle youth in under-serviced parts of the city. Partners in the project included the City of Toronto and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).

"Our Malvern pilot project has been successful at bringing shape and substance to Mayor David Miller's community safety initiative," says Centennial president Ann Buller. "The youth involved with us have been very enthusiastic. It's gratifying to see their curiosity and interest in learning ignited."


The Malvern students celebrated their graduation at the Centennial HP Science and Technology Centre on Morningside Ave. at the close of the summer. David Miller and Ontario Chief Justice Roy McMurtry were among the dignitaries on hand.

Students received a Centennial certificate of completion for their work; some earned additional certification from third parties such as the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada.

"We Scarborough students are sincere with gratitude. It is not often that authorities take keen interest in the neglected areas of society," valedictorian Alan Quincy Jones told the assembled students, staff and guests. "The youth are growing hungry for the fruits of education and guidance."

The positive summer experience prompted many to consider pursuing further studies. Students Cartis James, Stefan Mitchell, Lerato Paynter, Paul Diego and Marlon Allong have enrolled in full-time studies at Centennial this fall.

Some are getting a helping hand in the form of college bursaries to pay for tuition and textbooks (they qualify for OSAP funding to help with living expenses). Two are even employed by Centennial as "workstudy" students to earn additional funds.

New scholarship

Centennial financial aid manager Scherry George was so impressed with the students' enthusiasm, she was moved to put up $500 of her own money for a new scholarship for Malvern youth.

George is taking a special interest in the group because she was a long-time resident of Malvern. "I told them I'm committed to them. They know I'm from Malvern, too."

The summer courses took place at TDSB's Lester B. Pearson Collegiate Institute and at Centennial's Progress and Ashtonbee campuses.

The school board provided free bus transportation to the college campuses.

Textbooks and lunches were provided by the college at no cost to the students.

"I'm delighted that we had a chance to work with the Toronto District School Board on this fabulous initiative," Buller says. "It just goes to show you the good things that result when community organizations can partner together and share their resources."

Due to the success of this year's project, Centennial intends to expand its course offerings next summer.

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