In June of 2012, the office of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Status of Women announced that a pool of money was being put aside to support projects that 'Set the Stage for Girls and Young Women to Succeed.'
Earlier this month, Scadding Court heard their proposal had been accepted.
The grant will be used to fund a two-year Scadding Court initiative that will support 12 young women from the Alexandra Park community as they investigate, and ultimately effect, the changes occurring in their neighbourhood.
Located at 707 Dundas West
just east of Bathurst, Scadding Court has been active in the Alexandra Park community for over 30 years.
It’s a community, says Nikki Toten, manager of development and community engagement at the SCCC, "that has long existed in a kind of dead zone."
"We’re in the middle of very vibrant Chinatown and up-and-coming Dundas West. But, importantly, this is an area that’s very much in transition. There’s a lot redevelopment happening."
Not only are new condos are going up, but the Atkinson Co-op
(formerly known as Alexandra Park Housing) is currently undergoing "revitalization". The City of Toronto is working to transform the Co-op, and indeed the neighbourhood
, from a traditionally low-income community into a mixed income one. And housing prices are already on the rise.
"Given the changes that are coming to the community its really important that residents take advantage of the changes as opposed to being left out," says Toten.
That sentiment--the idea that current Alexandra Court residents should have the opportunity to benefit from any economic changes coming to their neighbourhood--is the guiding principal behind the new program.
The two-year project, tentatively called 'Economic Empowerment for Young Women', will challenge 12 young women from the community to research economic changes in their neighbourhood, and work together to implement a new community program based on their findings.
"First they’re going to be conducting a needs assessment," says Toten."They’re going to be discovering for themselves the barriers to economic prosperity for women in the Downtown West area, and specifically in the Alexandra Park neighbourhood."
After extensive research the women will work together to come up with a community project.
"It could be something like an advocacy group if they see something in the neighbourhood that really needs to change, or it could be a mentorship project for other young women. It all depends on what they find out," says Tonten.
The first year will be the planning and researching stage. In the second year the participants will implement their project.
Throughout the process they will be encouraged to create connections with other other women in Toronto who might be supportive of their initiative.
The 12 young women have been selected and will soon begin their research projects.
"Everything about this project is youth led," adds Toten. "We’re going to help them build the support network but we’re not going to make those connections for them. They’re really going to learn to build this themselves."
Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Nikki Toten, Manager of Development and Community Engagement, Scadding Court Community Center