My apologies for ignoring my blog but my schedule has been over the top busy (I am grateful) but the last entry has continued to be current since the losers protesting Quebec’s tuition increase are still at it and an event I spoke at in Toronto last week proved to me that my opinion of these losers is not nieve but dead on.
I was one of several guests invited to a special event at the John Bassett Theatre in the Toronto Convention Centre on May 24th. Dubbed the “Youth Philanthropic Initiative”, the one day event is the culmination of a school-year long assignment that is one of the best ideas I have ever heard. The project was created by the Toskan-Casale Foundation in 2002 and without going into a long historical account (Google YPI), the program began at Royal St. George’s College in Toronto and the essence is simple. To teach the importance of philanthropy, participating students form teams of 3 to 5 to investigate a local charity in need. They must research the charty, arrange for a meeting with its CEO and/or staff about the inner workings of the organization and interview (if appropriate) a recipient of the charity’s help. They then prepare and deliver a presentation, first to their class, then to their school (if the school practices this stage) and an independent panel of students, teachers, administrators and a parent judge the entries and the winning team is then awarded a grant to be given to the charity. Clearly, there are many variables but you get the idea. The program is free to schools who sign up and the focus age is Grade 9 to 11. Since 2002, YPI has seen over 1,300 schools sign up in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. including over 162,000 students participants, 40,000 this year alone. The Toskan-Casale Foundation has donated over 6.1 million dollars to date and the program continues to grow…no kidding.
On one of the highlight days of my career, there were over 1,000 students, 300 teachers and 100 plus representatives of the lucky charities who all got cheques for $5,000. There were a few speakers, lots of amazing professional dancers and pounding music and truly special performances by the likes of The Sugar Hill Gang (known for having the first hip hop single to be a Top 40 hit in 1979, “Rapper’s Delight) and new Canadian hearthrob R&B singer “Jordan”, who induced the usual teenage-girl screams. The energy of the event was predictably “youthful” but unlike the “silver-spooners” in Quebec, these kids weren’t complaining, they were learning the vital exercise of empathy. True, not all the protestors are alike and I may be painting a broad image of them but my point is the same as I made about the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver last year; I don’t care how you see yourself but if you join the gang to cause viloence and civil disobedience, you are the gang! The young people in YPI are “the hope” that we bestow on youth all the time and they are the real deal. Not only do they learn about charity but they meet those in need right on he ground. Charities can often have a familiar name and cause, but the people served are real and for adolscents seeing the real “real” and not the fabrications of “reality TV” is a true life-lesson. The program involves them early so they can use the growth of character as a personal benefit while in school but more importantly, it teaches youth “life isn’t always about me!” Wow!
The students in Quebec are real too, and I truly mean nothing personal but what most intrigues me are the leaders of these two examples.
In Quebec, much of the catalyst has come from left-wing nuts also known as Professors. These radical crazies encourage their students to cause civil disobedience as if its a heartfelt tradition in Quebec…please! The teachers involved in YPI, and they are provided with all the resources from the foundation, are inspiring their classes and students to see how they can make a difference where it really counts. Let’s see; smashing store windows and torching cars vs getting to know charities, their workers and the recipients of their help and if successful, present them with a cheque. Is it just me or is there a clear winner here?
Congratulations to those involved with the Toskan-Casale Foundation (especially Julie) and all the students and teachers participating in the Youth Philanthropic Initiative; you restore my much needed faith in youth and empathy. Quebec students; learn a real lesson and get back to school!