Published on October 11, 2016 | by Haafizah Khaderoo Photography by Jessica Nguyen0
Trust 15: Building a Foundation For Youth in Rexdale
Marcia Brown was an education assistant for the Toronto District School Board who helped run after-school programs at North Albion Collegiate Institute when she thought there was more she could do.
Brown noticed that the students were not interested in the after-school programs and said that the youth needed a hands-on program where they could learn to become leaders.
She then created 250 flyers titled, Girls Program That Will Change Your Life and passed them out to youth in the community.
Brown said, “I even asked girls to look for other girls who would be interested in the program. And the first time I had my program, 15 girls trusted me and walked into my life.”
That was the beginning of Trust 15, a non-profit organization focused on giving young people opportunities in the community of Rexdale.
This organization consists of two groups: Ladies on the Rise and Men of Distinction. Each week the groups get together in a safe environment where they are encouraged to talk about how their week went and discuss real life situations involving self-esteem: discussions on self-confidence, violence: being aware of violence in the neighbourhood and peer-pressure.
Aliya Naraine is a 15-year-old who recently joined Trust 15’s Ladies on the Rise. This is a program where young girls come together to learn leadership skills and form a bond with their peers. Naraine used to feel uncomfortable speaking in front of large groups but soon after she joined, she said that the program gave her more self-confidence and taught her how to interact well with her peers.
“You can never build up if you don’t have a good foundation, your foundation has to be strong in order to succeed,” said Naraine. Trust 15 has a mandate to build a foundation filled with networks and opportunities that can help youth move on to bright futures.
Brown works with her team to create networking opportunities for her groups. They bring in mentors of diverse professions to speak to the groups and share different perspectives.
Nikita Singh is an outgoing 18-year-old who is a youth leader within Ladies on the Rise. In the group youth leaders take on a responsibility to help mentor younger members and are trusted to give advice when needed to.
“We get a great amount of presenters from different cities, they share their stories and open doors for us. They inspire youth in our group to start realizing what they want to do in the future,” said Singh. Some of the presenters include: Cityline host Tracy Moore, Toronto Mayor John Tory and City Councillor Doug Ford.
Giving back to the community is Trust 15’s goal for the holidays according to Brown. The organization’s members will partner with the Toronto Star and hand out Christmas boxes to children in the community.
There are currently 65 girls in Ladies on the Rise and 25 boys in Men of Distinction but Trust 15 welcomes all youth in the Rexdale and North Etobicoke area. Brown is hopeful for the future of her organization. “Trust 15 is here to stay, we are going to make a difference and this program is going to change people’s lives in the right way,” said Brown.