20 Jul Twenty Young Leaders Selected As Ontario Community Changemakers For Their Innovative Ideas To Improve Their Communities
20 young leaders from Ontario will receive a $ 5,000 microgrant and leadership development and training to implement their idea to activate public space, enhance civic engagement and foster social inclusion in their Ontario communities.
TORONTO— July 18, 2022 — 8 80 Cities announces the 20 winners of their second cohort of Ontario Community Changemakers, a leadership and microgrant program to support residents aged 19-35 with innovative ideas to create more equitable, healthy, and engaged communities.
Ontario Community Changemakers is a program led by 8 80 Cities, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the quality of life for people in cities by bringing people together to enhance mobility and public space.
“We are so excited to announce the winners of our second cohort,” says Jiya Benni, Project Manager for 8 80 Cities. “Our first cohort was able to implement some amazing projects in their communities this past year. We can’t wait to be able to bring this new cohort together, while also connecting them with a growing network of alumni, to exchange ideas and support their creative community projects.”
The program’s mission is to support and elevate the voices of emerging civic leaders in communities across Ontario to inspire and enact change.
OCC is a mini-grant program designed for Ontario residents aged 19-35 with innovative ideas to activate public space, enhance civic engagement, and/or foster social inclusion. The program runs with support from Balsam Foundation.
“We launched this program to support emerging community leaders in Ontario. We received 70 strong applications this year and have chosen 20 changemakers with bold ideas and unique stories to tell. These folks already have tremendous strengths and capacities, and the courage to take action; it is our job to create the space to help them build confidence and provide a network of support. It’s especially exciting that this new cohort will be able to see the first cohort’s impact in their respective communities. Each year of OCC, we are building a stronger and diverse network of leaders who enhance civic engagement, activate public space, and foster social inclusion across the province.” Amanda O’Rourke, Executive Director, 8 80 Cities
This year’s program will include a hybrid (virtual and in-person) studio, which involves presentations and storytelling workshops by inspiring community leaders and skills-building workshops on project planning, community engagement, communication, and tactical urbanism. The 20 successful Changemakers have 12 months to implement their idea and will receive ongoing training and capacity building from the team at 8 80 Cities and a network of international public space experts.
The Winners & Their Project Ideas
Armi De Francia, Centering Race, Gender, and Disability in Active Transportation
While Ajax is commonly perceived as a car-centric municipality, many residents, including racialized women and people with disabilities, expressed a need and desire for other mobility options. #GetAjaxMoving is an annual campaign that increases awareness of transportation options and municipal efforts to enable sustainable transportation. This year, #GetAjaxMoving aims to leverage community assets by collaborating with community leaders. Building on this campaign, this project increases biking momentum and improves driving behaviours through a Women of Colour Bike Ride. A Driver Safety Awareness Campaign centring on pedestrians with disabilities.
Jasmeen Dourka, Reconnecting with Our Roots
Reconnecting with Our Roots is a series of multigenerational workshops created to equip the Brampton South Asian community with the knowledge and skills to integrate cultural practices into a healthy lifestyle. Facilitated by subject-matter experts, each workshop will focus on a different aspect of health and wellbeing, such as cultural and faith-based mental health strategies, art therapy using traditional ‘phulkari’ embroidery, culturally appropriate nutrition, and physical activity through dance. Additionally, workshop content will be shared online to ensure we continue mobilizing and transferring knowledge across the community.
Kaitlin (Katie) Goulet, Ignite Activation Space
This project is a paid opportunity for youth (14-29) to come together to design and create an outdoor activation space. Young adults will be able to take advantage of the space year-round and host free youth-led activities. The team will make a sign with a QR code linking to a page with youth opportunities (especially paid ones) in the area. Ideally, this will build a sense of community within the team and other youth in Chatham-Kent, igniting additional initiatives around Chatham-Kent that enhance the youth experience.
Avery Greaves, Free Little Food Pantries
The Free Little Food Pantries project will bring the mini food pantry movement to Goderich. The pantries, spread out throughout the community of 8,000 people, will help to lessen food insecurity (being open 24/7/365). The project will also allow community members the opportunity to become direct agents of change themselves, by donating to the pantries, spreading the word about it, volunteering and more. The project will also ensure that local makers and businesses are prioritized in the construction and maintenance of the pantries.
Celynne Shipley, Inside Out
The purpose of the Inside Out project is to normalize and humanize the experience of loneliness in high school-aged students through story and representation, but also to help spark action through specific activities that will help promote autonomy/control, connectedness, and mastery. When satisfied, these three psychological needs are seen as pillars that will allow a person to thrive. Through this initiative, Celynne seeks to create a series of posters showcasing the stories and experiences of local teens that have experienced bouts of loneliness. The project will be strategically designed for youth and displayed in bathroom stalls across Kemptville High schools. These posters seek to have storytelling components that will spark interest and resonate with the connection between High school youth, while simultaneously featuring scannable QR codes that will lead youth to an assortment of online interactive features and digital resources targeted around areas of loneliness.
Ariba Tasnim, The King’s Roots
The King’s Roots project will begin by initiating outdoor workshops where youth would be able to participate in many workshops that involve gardening, zero waste initiatives, compost piles, nature hikes, and tree planting. The King’s Roots project seeks to create a series of workshops that may include information sites that can teach youth how to reuse materials that are typically thrown away. Ariba hopes these activities will activate public spaces and help create an eco-aware environment that will inspire youth and other community members to reduce their carbon footprint.
Francess Dunhann, YEES (Youth Employment & Entrepreneurship Support)
YEES is designed as a youth employment and entrepreneurship support program. This project is committed to promoting employment/entrepreneurship and breaking the cycle of unlawful employment by offering means through raising awareness, this will include providing culturally relevant mentorship, education, information literacy, and training to prevent participation in unlawful employment activities that lead to victimization and endangerment. Facilitating workshops, as well as campaigns to help at-risk youth engage in positive life activities, break systemic barriers, and contribute positively to society. In addition, Francess will continue to assist youth in finding legal, good-paying jobs by engaging with companies that will hire them.
Raghad El Niwairi, Envisioning an Anti-Racist London
Given the continuous traumatic events and tragedies happening worldwide and especially impacting Londoners who’ve just experienced the one-year anniversary of The Our London Family tragedy, Raghad understands exactly how important it is to provide opportunities for our communities to heal together. Through community-focused events such as a BIPOC Grief and Healing session, solidarity-building conversations with other racialized leaders and Indigenous solidarity training, she will prioritize free and open events that allow marginalized folks to participate, engage and feel connected in this work to their community members.
Amrita Kumar-Ratta, Our Bodies Our Voices: Re-Imagining Reproductive Justice in ‘Punjabi Canada’
This project will create a much-needed community-centred space for critical conversations and creative storytelling among Punjabi women around the intergenerational trauma associated with reproductive silencing and surveillance, and around the creative ways in which Punjabi women are reclaiming reproductive agency and advocating for reproductive justice. For this project, Amrita will facilitate a series of creative storytelling workshops for Punjabi women in Brampton, Ontario. Arts-based techniques will support participants in sharing stories about reproductive experiences.
Elisa Hollingsworth, Into The Rainbow: Welcome Guide for Loved Ones
Into The Rainbow: Welcome Pack for Loved Ones will be a collection of materials and activities supplied to the loved ones of those who have “come out” as 2SLGBTQIA+. These materials include definitions, FAQs, personal stories from community members, local and national support resources, and much more. The project is based on the belief that knowledge is power, and giving people the resources to educate themselves and ask questions will create stronger relationships and communities.
Noelle Ward, Mending Communities
Mending Communities was born out of two unmet needs in the community. As anyone who has worked with clothing donations knows, there is always some donated clothing which cannot be used. Meanwhile, the skills people need to maintain or modify their clothing are difficult to master and come with a high monetary cost in materials. Mending Communities will take unsuitable items and repair or upcycle them while teaching community members how to maintain and repair clothing using these donations as training. Materials will be free to use, so community members can also repair their clothing.
Grant Neegan, Community Connections
The Community Connections project will be designed to accommodate outdoor sessions catering to individuals of all ages. Workshops will offer materials that will help familiarize participants with the tools and paints that will allow me the opportunity to instruct, guide, and facilitate support for those that are shy or new to art. Although these sessions will be structured, the real goal is to promote creativity, encourage participation, and foster relationships with the community. The participants will contribute concepts, drawings, or paintings from the sessions to design the mural.
Mariah Laferriere, Azilda Artizans 2022
Azila Artizans will be based on painting a beautiful mural near the baseball field in Azilda, Sudbury, providing a great area for photo shoots. Painting of the mural will be based on what the community decides and participants of all ages and abilities will be able to participate in the brainstorming, designing, and physical painting of it.
Ashley Gittens, Pause & Process: Healing Academic Trauma
“Pause & Process: Healing Academic Trauma” is a two-week harm processing and reduction curriculum intended for use in school classrooms by teachers or appropriate faculty members. The curriculum intends to address and process the institutional violence students may have faced in previous years and mitigate future harm. The curriculum aims to increase and improve feelings of safety, power and autonomy in students more at risk of experiencing institutional violence, including Black, Indigenous, disabled and/or queer and trans students.
Jose (Luis) Kuri, Cheech1Teach1
Cheech1Teach1 plays on the phrase “Each one teaches one,” a basic principle Luis seeks to target throughout his community! The Cheech1Teach1 project seeks to teach, educate, and spread knowledge by organizing local events throughout the street dance community and for others who may be interested in learning or becoming part of the community.
Karenveer (Karen) Pannu, Co-Creating the Future of Community Food Spaces
The Co-Creating the Future of Community Food Spaces project will engage community members by inviting them to reimagine a vital community service – the community food bank. Many community food banks, due to COVID-19, have had to move programming into public spaces. Reflecting on these experiences and leading community members through an engaging participatory design journey, this project will ask community members to reimagine food banks as public spaces and brainstorm new possibilities for how the service and space are designed. These contributions will then be used to develop key service principles that promote accessibility, dignity, empowerment and social connectedness.
Mehedi Khan, Geometric City: Islamic Art & Public Spaces
The project will use public art to improve Muslim identities’ visibility in urban spaces. Public art adds meaning to our cities and character to our neighbourhoods. Public art humanizes the built environment. Geometric City: Islamic Art & Public Spaces will reclaim spaces of play and aim to integrate Islamic art and identities into the urban fabric of public spaces in the GTA. The project is based on the belief that visual representation can foster a sense of belonging and be used as a catalyst to create a necessary conversation about Islamophobia in everyday life.
Mikael Khalam, Taking Kids Out of Poverty
Taking Kids Out of Poverty (TKOP) is a non-profit organization that takes a holistic approach to support youth from low-income communities through education, soccer, and mentorship. TKOP aims to transform the lives of underprivileged youth by providing them with a combination of mentorship and sports training that uniquely develops them into future leaders who will influence positive change in their communities. TKOP also provides kids and youth a consistent place where they find joy, friendship, and value regardless of their cultural background, financial means, or physical ability. The project’s values are character development, community engagement, education, and anti-violence.
Takanya Marsh, King Street Cooperative Community Garden
The King Street Cooperative Community Garden will transform an underutilized field in downtown Whitby into a beautiful park, including a food forest, raised beds for vegetables, a wheelchair-accessible path, and a garden shed. There will still be plenty of grassy areas for active play. The food forest will include sweet cherry trees, apple trees and pear trees, as well as raspberry bushes, blueberry bushes and currants. Each tree will be supported by guild plants serving different beneficial functions. Garden members will receive an equal share of the harvest each year, and excess will be donated to food banks.
Bianca (Bee) Leff, Humans of Transit
Humans of Transit aims to get the community excited about using transit within the Windsor-Essex community. Many people have questions and concerns about transit but do not know what resources are available. Bee wants to share “how to’s” on taking public transit in Windsor. With their project, Bee hopes to assist and address safety concerns around transit as a visible and queer person of colour. Bee would like to enhance civic engagement by fostering social inclusion online and in person. Using online platforms, Bee will work to release a series of videos and tips and answer questions, while in-person events will be created to encourage civic conversations about transit and its impact on our city.
Learn more about the Ontario Community Changemakers here: www.ontariochangemakers.org/changemakers
About 8 80 Cities
8 80 Cities is a nonprofit organization based in Toronto, Canada. We are dedicated to contributing to the transformation of cities into places where people can walk, bike, access public transit and visit vibrant parks and public places. Our approach is to engage people and communities across multiple sectors to inspire the creation of cities that are easily accessible, safe and enjoyable for all. We are guided by a simple but powerful question: what if everything we did in our cities was great for an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old? We believe you can create better cities for all if you start there. We achieve our mission through grant projects, research and advocacy, and innovative services. For more, visit: 880cities.org.
About Balsam Foundation
Balsam Foundation exists to enable and galvanize the well-being and potential of our communities. We are committed to a future where all Canadians benefit from a high standard of health and well-being. For this reason, our funding will reflect approaches that put people first, strike a balance between personal and collective wellness, and acknowledge the impact of social determinants of health and the context within which people live, work and play. For more, visit balsamfoundation.com
Jiya Benni, Project Manager 8 80 Cities, email@example.com, 647 800 5590
Camila Uriona, Communications Manager 8 80 Cities, firstname.lastname@example.org, 647 800 5255