Not too long ago, Ephraim’s Place Community Centre conducted a comprehensive Community Assessment of our neighbourhood. Various stakeholders (educators, parents, service providers, police officers, business leaders, etc) were interviewed to help identify the pressing needs in our community. It did not take long before a theme began to develop around the negative reputation for our community. Just as the question was asked in the scriptures, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”, so also people across Toronto asked the same question of our community, “Can anything good come from Jane-Finch?” This has a devastating effect on our youth. The community assessment revealed that our youth have begun to “own” this reputation as a reality in their lives. Many have surrendered their lives to a hopeless future.
Out of the discovery of this need, EPCC has designed a program unique to our community called Project HEARTcore. Project HEARTcore is an after school program that helps youth believe beyond the barriers of our community that they can and will have a successful future.
There are three parts of the program. The first part is designed to help youth think differently about themselves by teaching them personal leadership skills they will need to be successful in life. The second part is designed to help them think differently about our community by helping them become agents of change. We help them discover their own passions and gifts and combine them with their personal leadership skills to design a community development project that meets a need in the community about which they are passionate. The third part of the program is designed to help others think differently about our community. The youth are taught media production skills and are given access to video cameras and production software to document their community development programs and other success stories in our community. Then, they share these with others to help them see our community in a different light, thus breaking the cycle of hopelessness.
As a result of the Project HEARTcore program, we are proud to say that the answer to the question, “Can anything good come from Jane-Finch?”, is a resounding “YES!”