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Summer has arrived! It may have taken a little longer than usual, but it finally feels like summer is just about here in Toronto.

With the arrival of the season, I reflect on Spring 2016 in Regent Park, as we headed into summer. We faced the prospect of a challenging summer ahead with the threat of gun violence looming over our community. Internally, we were faced with the challenge of how we would address this problem. We chose to address the issue head on and Kenneth Slater, our Manager of Children and Youth programs took on a leadership role, providing real solutions for the youth in our community.

Something Kenneth said has always stayed with me. Having grown up in Regent Park himself, Kenneth is a trusted mentor and friend to the youth here and understands the complexities they face daily. Kenneth said "When you live in Regent Park, the most powerful thing you can do is believe in somebody." And Kenneth did and continues to do just that.

Kenneth believed in a small group of severely at-risk youth in our community. He proposed a radical departure from our standard programming for youth and suggested that the summer of 2016 would be an intervention of opportunity for these youth. Seven youth were provided with counselling, volunteer opportunities, camping experiences, and employment internships. The program included an international trip overseas to volunteer, giving the youth the chance to expand their world view and have completely new experiences. And it worked. It was a safe summer, and deeply rewarding for the youth who participated, with lasting impact.

Kenneth's incredible and innovative work will be recognized this week, with a Bhayana Foundation Award from the United Way. He saw a need, developed a fresh, thoughtful and impactful intervention and saw it through to completion with the excellence that can be expected from Dixon Hall.

We need your support to provide services to our community over the summer months. I hope you'll consider working with leaders like Kenneth by helping us send more Regent Park youth to camp or lacing up your running shoes at the Toronto Challenge to walk or run in support of seniors. We also have lots of volunteer opportunities over the summer months and would love to welcome you to our volunteer team.
 
In Partnership,

Neil Hetherington
CEO, Dixon Hall

If you have any questions or comments about Dixon Hall and how to get involved, please feel free to contact me at neil.hetherington@dixonhall.org. I would love to hear from you.
Behind the Scenes: What Makes our Summer Camp So Special
Dixon Hall's campers look forward to summer camp all year, and most of our campers come back year after year. Why? Because every camper who comes to Dixon Hall feels like summer camp was designed just for them. And they’re right!
 
In many ways, Dixon Hall’s camp is like others around the city. Campers enjoy a fun-filled summer; they go on day trips around the city, play games, swim, do arts and crafts, and make new friends. What makes our camp so special is the time and care our youth workers put into getting to know every single camper and creating a camp experience that meets each camper’s unique needs.

Planning for an entire summer is not an overnight process, and Ivi and Aleshia, Dixon Hall’s camp leads, start their planning a year in advance. Camp staff meet at the end of each summer to debrief and set new goals for the following summer. Most of our camp staff are former campers themselves; this gives them incredible insight into what makes a great summer camp experience for youth in Regent Park.

Our team looks forward to meeting new campers each summer - extra time is spent to learn names, favourite things, where new campers attended camp before, and what they're interested in doing this summer. Really getting to know the campers is essential to creating a camp that meets their needs. As is knowing what’s happening in the Regent Park community. Workshops are centered around current issues in the community - dealing with emotions and where to find support. Ivi and Aleshia stay informed about what's happening in the City too, ensuring campers can experience Toronto's diversity and participate in the many free events the city offers over the summer.
 
With so many returning campers, keeping things fresh is always a challenge but one that our staff look forward to every year. This year, campers will spend a week at Killbear Provincial Park for the first time ever -- a change from Alongonquin Provincial Park where funnily enough, many youth had a real bear sighting! The bear is not guaranteed this year, but the fun and friendship are. 
 
Spending the summer at Dixon Hall’s summer camps has a lasting impact on our campers. We couldn’t provide this experience to youth in Regent Park without your support. Please consider donating to our summer camps today and help us give more kids in Regent Park a summer to remember. 
Help Send a Kid to Camp this Summer
The Toronto Challenge Returns: Join us on June 11
Dixon Hall’s staff and seniors have been proud participants at the Toronto Challenge every year for the past 26 years.

Funds raised at the Toronto Challenge support our seniors programs and give seniors access to the supports they need. Our programs give seniors access to hot, nutritious meals they may not be able to otherwise afford or prepare; access to rides to medical appointments; access to friendship and meaningful social connections at our day programs, so that seniors are not isolated and lonely; and access to support and relief for seniors’ caregivers.

Angeles Paez-Blanco, a personal support worker at Dixon Hall, has seen firsthand the difference these programs can have on seniors. She recalls fondly the memory of her mother, a recipient of long-term care services, enjoying a sunny summer day at last year's Toronto Challenge, where she participated in the event thanks to the help of a kind volunteer. 

Events like the Toronto Challenge provide an opportunity for our community to come together and help support seniors so they can age at home and continue to live independently. We hope you will join us at this year’s Toronto Challenge and help raise funds to support our seniors programs. Lace up your shoes, pack your sunscreen and water, and we'll see you at the start line!
Take the Toronto Challenge with Dixon Hall
Catching Up with Dixon Hall Music School Alumni Talena Jackson
Talena Jackson attended Dixon Hall Music School for piano lessons throughout her childhood in the 1990s. Originally enrolled by her mother as an outlet for Talena’s excess energy, she now reflects fondly on her time with Dixon Hall Music School and attributes many of her current successes to her time with us. We caught up with Talena recently to hear more about her favourite memories from Dixon Hall and how music education helped shape her.
Catch Up with Talena on Her Music School Memories

 






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Dixon Hall · 58 Sumach Street · Toronto, Ontario M5A 3J7 · Canada