Every Sunday, over thirty students aged 4 to 28 and even adults attend a free tutoring program called Thorncliffe Reach-Out Teach-In (TRT) at 47 Thorncliffe Park Drive.
TRT started one year ago by young adults who were members of other local social justice organizations to raise awareness on issues such as tenants’ rights issues. TRT started off as a tutoring program, but is starting to provide a variety of workshops to expose their youth to important skills that “everyone should have”.
TRT also hosts workshops for parents to learn more about their rights as a resident and as a Toronto citizen. Topics of previous workshops include educational gap between Thorncliffe schools and Leaside, the neighbouring community, schools – one cause of the issue being lack of involvement of parents at schools, which is because parents don’t have much time from working long hours and trying to make their financial ends meet.
Parents also confessed that they feel that school systems are less accessible to them – they feel they have to fight against the language barrier and “challenge” teachers to get their opinions heard. TRT wants to prepare parents to be more confident about their role as both parents and members of the community.
TRT has also discussed employment rights and issues with parents and will host workshops on “Know Your Politicians” in this fall before the mayoral elections to better prepare them.
On Sunday 30 March, TRT offered youth a free workshop on how to use GIMP, a free and easy to download photo editing software, to create posters. Youth discussed what makes a poster effective and ineffective. They were taught layering, scaling, and combining different images.
TRT believes in “skills sharing”, which means they encourage all members to share their talents with one another. The volunteers are trained to be leaders of the program and everybody switches roles from being the photographer to recording minutes to facilitating workshops.
From 11 am to 1 pm on every Sunday, high school students and adults are tutored by post-secondary students. Then, from 1 am to 3 pm, they are encouraged to tutor the younger students. This way, youth engagement and leadership is promoted.
Grade 12 MGCI student Syed Muhammad, a volunteer of TRT, says that he sees “potential” in this organization: “Potential to bring the community together and going past boundaries of different ethnicity and different religions that divide the community. It can reduce the gap we have between each other in a community and bring us together.”