Afrocentric Summer Mentorship & Enrichment Program
Our Afrocentric Summer Mentorship & Enrichment Program ran every Saturday for four weeks at the Rexdale Community Hub during August 2019 serving a total of 28 youth. The goal of the program was to increase the participants’ self-confidence and academic engagement so that they are more likely to act in accordance with high academic and professional goals. The youth participated in weekly experiential learning modules, that drew on African-centred sources of knowledge, covering the four disciplines of: entrepreneurship, medicine, history and civics. Students were paired with mentors of colour who were current university (undergraduate and PhD), college, medical and law school students. Mentors walked students through fun, thought-provoking Afrocentric academic activities in each of the disciplines in addition to leading discussions on growth mindsets, goal-setting and overcoming barriers.
Day 1: Entrepreneurship
The program began with the theme of entrepreneurship which included an insightful workshop from Chris ‘Mr. Inspired’ Duff, a local entrepreneur and owner of Inspired Initiatives: an innovative consulting firm on a mission to build solutions that level the playing field for marginalized communities and help people in need, which offers a range of services including helping young people monetize their passions. Participants also had the opportunity to compete in an entrepreneurship cup where they designed their own business plans. Mentors led participants in discussions on growth and fixed mindsets.
Day 2: Medicine
The theme of the second day was medicine, where the vice-president of the Black Physicians of Ontario, Dr. Andrew Thomas, spoke to the students about his educational and professional journey including attending medical school at a HBCU. Students participated in a family medicine workshop where they were taught the importance of primary care, explored the implications of the shortage of black male doctors and tried their hand at diagnosing patients through testing reflexes, checking blood pressures and using an otoscope. A lucky few also got the chance to practice suturing on a banana! Mentor pods discussed strategies for overcoming fears and challenges using Maya Angelou’s poetry.
Day 3: History
The third day centred on history and included an exciting field trip. We partnered with the amazingly brilliant Jacqueline Scott- a historian and PhD student, who led participants on a black history tour of downtown Toronto focusing on murals, monuments and spaces pertaining to Black influences on the city and country. Mentors also took the time to discuss how they have learnt from their mistakes and how the students can too.
Day 4: Civics
Our fourth and final day began with our keynote speaker, Yale alum and New Haven Alderman, Albert Lucas, who joined us virtually and shared his words of wisdom on civics and giving back to the community. We then showcased local talent through a spoken word performance on how art can lead to self-growth followed by a poetry-writing workshop led by guest Brian Osei-Boateng. Participants then walked through a series of academic goal-setting activities looking to our mentors as models for setting and achieving high goals. We concluded by giving participants certificates of achievement with unique superlative awards. Finally, we had closing remarks delivered by our long-standing cheerleader and supporter, Eyitayo Dada.
Special thanks to our volunteers: Adams Aghimien, Tammoya Betton, Moriessa Campbell, Tobi Dada, Tasnim Gurey, Sein Kipusi, Redate Melaku, Nicholas Ramsubick, and Aayushi Sharma!