York School News

Creativity, Activity, Service

As 'counterbalance' to the academic rigour of school, a Creativity, Activity, Service component to the school curriculum provides students learning through experience along with community involvement.
“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”

“Food kitchens, women’s shelters, tree planting. What problem do you want to help solve?”  

As 'counterbalance' to the academic rigour of school, a Creativity, Activity, Service component to the school curriculum provides students learning through experience along with community involvement.

To show all 70 Grade 11 students the importance of community (and their role within it), The York School organized a service day at the start of the school year. This concerted effort helps students create connections, and demonstrates how one can to make an impact in many ways to assist others.
  1. The CAS day’s wide range of activities included 
  2. Removing invasive species in Tommy Thompson Park 
  3. Creating a mural at the CNIB Hub
  4. Chopping and slicing in the Scott Mission kitchen 
  5. Landscaping an outdoor reading space at Children’s Book Bank 
  6. Sorting out costumes at Dramaway 
  7. Cataloging books at Frontier College 
  8. Support the women’s shelter at Interval House

Among the best examples that show students how enriching it is to participate in community activities is in Anna, Georgia, and Olivia’s work at DramaWay. In an environment where social work and theatrical art converge, DramaWay has been providing compassionate programming for individuals with special needs for 20 years.

A place where you can be you. Participants with special needs including autism, down syndrome, learning disabilities participate in DramaWay’s programs by learning through creativity that everyone has a voice. 

The group started helping out three years ago by sorting costumes. They became more involved by volunteering at the weekly theatre and dance sessions. Now, they are a fixture in the community.  

Anna - “I think when we first walked in, the organization thought we were fly-by-night students looking for volunteer hours. But we got all our CAS hours before grades 9-10 and we’re still here. I see this as an extracurricular activity. You’re there in the moment, dancing and reading comedy together having unbridled fun. It’s my favourite part of the week where you can be yourself with friends who accept you unconditionally,” admits Anna, whose sister kicked off the relationship with DramaWay and The York School six years ago. 

I give a lot of credit to DramaWay for helping me shape the direction of where I want to take my career in social work.”     

Georgia - “Once a week I can detach from societal expectations, and leave my to-do list and stress at the door. This is an environment where you get perspective. Raymond, one of the participants, once said to me: ‘Is it the end of world if you think you bombed that math test? I have confidence you’ll do ok.’ DramaWay believes in you. You matter to somebody, and they matter to you.” 

Olivia - “Through DramaWay, you don’t see the disability. You see the people, with their great personalities, for who they are. The plays at the end of the season are always so triumphant. Our friends and family come to celebrate.” 

Recently, DramaWay was confronted with possibly losing its studio space. Losing the space meant losing the family. The students put together a proposal to The York School for DramaWay to make use of the school’s facilities after hours. That was two years ago already, Now, DramaWay uses the school two times a week for programming, and in exchange the School can help cultivate ‘volunteers for life.’   

Off to University next year, the students believe they are leaving the relationship with DramaWay and The York School in good hands. There are four younger students taking over, and with the support of the School’s Director of Citizenship, DramaWay has been woven into the school’s fabric. 

By serving the community, students engage in issues of both local and global significance. They take on new challenges, plan and initiate activities, learn to work in teams, show perseverance and commitment, consider moral issues and develop new skills. Learning to help others is a fulfilling exercise where the impact of their accomplishments instills pride and validation in the community.   

The York School Fund provided financial support for such things as transportation, lunches and supplies, and coordination of this day-of-service. 

About the York School

Canada's first co-educational independent IB World School
The York School is a co-educational JK to Grade 12 independent school located in the heart of Toronto. The York School was founded in 1965 and is the first school in Canada accredited to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) from junior kindergarten (JK) to university entrance. As an IB World School, The York School's motto is Experientia Docet or Experience Teaches.

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