A group of Grade 9 students from Scarborough’s Stephen Leacock Collegiate Institute gave back to the community recently, donating $5,000 to Variety Village.
Part of the school’s advanced placement excellence program, the students were tasked with researching various charitable organizations of their choice. Students then made competitive presentations to each other about the organizations in a bid to have theirs awarded the $5,000.
Fourteen-year-old Dillan Mistry won out with his presentation on Variety Village, convincing his classmates the organization was the most deserving of their support.
The choice to support Variety Village was an easy one, explained Dillan, because the organization is close to his heart.
“When I was very little, my sister was born with a disability and there wasn’t anywhere in the community to provide support,” he said. “We found Variety Village, and we realized that they provide support for not only the person who has a disability but everyone else in the family, and so we’ve been there for years and years, so I decided to do them.”
The school’s APEX program, unique to Stephen Leacock, teaches students about local and global issues and how they can help. When they reach Grade 12, the students will travel overseas to help out in a developing country.
Now in its second year, this is the first time students from the program were enabled to donate to a local charity. The class was given the opportunity to give back to its community by Ken Laundy, who provided the money the students donated.
“I thought that the younger generation should start to get involved in charitable organizations,” Laundy said. “I thought that giving them $5,000 would probably be a bit more incentive then just having to go out and interview charities. I think it helped.”
Along with helping the students learn the value of charity and giving back to the community, the money will be a great help to Variety Village, said Robyn Parashyniak, Variety Village development officer. Dillan presented Parashyniak with the funds to applause from his classmates Feb. 1, during the group’s last class of the semester.
“(The money) means a lot,” said Parashyniak.
“We are not government funded, so community support is how we get by. We’re just thrilled. It’s amazing that kids can recognize the need and choose us as a charity of choice. There’s so many incredible charities out there, so much good work out there, it’s really nice and heartwarming to be chosen.”
She noted the sizeable contribution is a huge gain for the organization.
“They say that every $1 donated is $7 worth of activity. (The donation) is amazing,” she said, adding that much money helps hundreds of kids participate in programming, or purchases equipment that benefits the approximately 35,000 people that come through the organization’s doors each year.
Variety Village is a fitness and life skills centre open to people of all abilities, located at 3701 Danforth Avenue, Scarborough. The centre and its programs promote inclusion, empowerment and recreation for people with and without ability challenges. Through the organization’s charitable arm, Variety of Ontario, it also provides educational and recreational outreach programs that help improve the lives and integration of differently-abled people in their own communities.
“Variety Village provides help to our community immensely,” Dillan noted. “The number of disabled kids in our community is growing. Variety Village provides support for these kids.”
For more information on Variety Village, visit www.varietyvillage.ca.