BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
Do you have what it takes to be a champion? A champion is defined by many characteristics none of which are determined by their talents. A champion understands that performances are like a roller coaster, a road with many ups and downs and they learn to accept both the good and the bad.
On Saturday April 16th at Woodbine Banquet & Convention Centre the Trust 15 Youth Community Support Organization hosted their 4th annual Gala in recognition of recognizing and empowering student success. Founded in 2010, by the intelligent, insightful community and youth advocate Marcia Brown.
Marcia began her career with the Toronto District School Board, as an Educational Assistant in 2005. As the mother of an autistic child, she was familiar working closely with children that had special needs. She was drawn to working with kids who needed some extra attention and found a greater purpose in helping them and giving them the support they needed to get through the challenges they faced in life.
Marcia realized that in her community there was significant need for a place where young men and women could come to feel safe and accepted, while also receiving that much needed support. She noticed that while she was able to work with students during school hours there was a lack of after-school programs in which she could achieve the same reach and so taking matters into her own hands founded Trust 15.
Trust 15 is a non-profit organization that provides youth in the Rexdale/North Etobicoke area with programs that promote and inspire positive behavior, creative expression, and cooperative working skills. Their mission is to provide youth in the community with the social and educational tools to succeed in society, accomplished through mentoring and positive role model interactions.
This year’s gala was a reception that showcased the support of their cause and highlighted how being involved in the Trust 15 program has left an impression on the youth of the community. As guests entered the main foyer, they were greeted by shouts of celebration and a round of applause as Men of Distinction and Ladies on the Rise escorted guests into the hall in a rare red carpet experience. Many distinguished members of the community attended to rally their support behind Trust 15 including MPP’s and many political members who are proud of the work that Marcia has already accomplished in her advocacy with the youth. This year’s gala welcomed the contributions of TD Canada Trust, The University of Guelph-Humber, Gore Mutual, RBC, CN, Dynamic Funds, Carte Wealth Management, and Sabrina J. Events. With their backing they have aided in the continued growth and strengthening of the Trust 15 program spreading positivity and building bridges in the community.
Everyone who took the stage offered words of encouragement and inspiration, while the students of Trust 15 put on an engaging and inspiring show that had the audience beaming with pride. “This is what makes me happy,” smiled Marcia as she watched the student’s convocation in the hallway smiling and carrying on with one another in a brilliant display of comradery.
Every week, Trust 15 opens their doors to 120 youths in the community for their after school drop in programs. The Ladies on the Rise, Girls on the Rise and Men of Distinction programs offer these youth a safe and nurturing environment where they can discover their voices, stay motivated and discuss and find solutions for the real life issues they face surrounding self-esteem, conflict resolution, abuse, violence, peer pressure and family life. Their connection with the youth networks mentors, professionals and community leaders who can share their own experience and teach them tips for success, inspiring them to believe in themselves their talents and allows them unlock and implement their potential to a bright and beautiful future.
The Keynote address by Anthony Hylton Chief of Staff and Private Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and the Queen’s representative in the province, offered some insight to the audience and the students of Trust 15 about his own background, the struggles he faced as a young black man, how he dealt with those issues and the challenges he still hopes to conquer.
Sean Jones, as well as the students of Trust 15 showcased an array of talents that uplifted and inspired the audience, with performances that made their parents proud. A champion has vision; a champion dreams of things that haven’t been and believes they are possible. A champion says “I can.” The student of Trust 15 are destined for remarkable things and through Marcia Brown’s guidance and support they will become some of the most successful citizens that our community has ever seen.
Marcia has become a mentor for these students giving them an outlet in which to discuss the challenges they face, when they are struggling to find someone to turn to. Many of these students also look for advice on public speaking, and mental health issues, so Marcia has listened to put their needs first allowing them to utilize her program to be the people they want to be. Together with the unrelenting support of the community Marcia and her team are helping to raise the leaders of tomorrow, through her dedication and endless hours of blood, sweat and tears the Trust 15 will ensure they can become their own champions.
For more information on the Trust 15 program, on how you can become a sponsor or connect with the Trust 15 leaders of tomorrow please visit www.trust15.com. Together it’s possible to make a difference, in the world of tomorrow.