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Surrey’s After School Athletic Programs Are Trying To Save Lives

To describe the city of Surrey as a place where drugs are flowing through the streets like water and passersby are dodging bullets that are flying through the air might be an exaggeration, but sadly, it is not a complete mischaracterization of the troubles the Metro Vancouver’s 2nd-most populated municipality has had to deal with in the last many years.  According to data compiled by Maclean’s from Statistics Canada, in 2010, Surrey ranked as the 8th most dangerous city (with at least 10,000 residents) in the country. This week alone there have been three reported incidents of shots fired, thankfully with no victims.

Despite amped-up efforts to combat crime and drug offenders leading to steep decreases in crime in 2016, this past year Surrey placed 10th across the nation regarding total drug violations-the rate of offenses was twice the average Canadian city. Surrey also took 6th-place “honors” when it came to firearms use-most likely related to the surge in gang related violence throughout Surrey since 2009. Not to mention its residents placed the city as one of the nation’s top offenders for child pornography (4th), fraud (2nd), breaking and entering (8th), robbery (6th), motor vehicle theft (3rd), and is the 9th-ranked city according to the violent crime severity index. Sadly, many youths have not only been part of these ongoing crimes but have been the victims of them as well.

This influx in crime pushed Surrey’s government leaders to create a thorough public safety strategy that urges all levels of government, the RCMP, and the community as a whole to become more proactive in keeping its citizens-especially youth-away from vices like drug usage and gang affiliation. The effort that has taken place is making a difference. So far in the first quarter of 2017, there is a continued decrease in every category of crime in Surrey. However, more must be done to eventually eradicate all crime (or at least the majority of it). Dozens of programs created by the city are focused on socialization, education, and development of youth and much more with this target in mind. Many privately-run organizations have popped up as well in recent years with the hope of creating other ways to keep today’s youths off Surrey’s streets. One method that many groups have found to be particularly successful in doing so for all ages and both sexes is their athletic initiatives, something that is not surprising according to psychodynamic counselor Daniel Smyth, the creator of Sport and Thought, Football as Therapy in the United Kingdom.

The impact of exercise is incredible no matter one’s age, but there are important benefits of exercise that are particular to youth. “The later we become involved in sport the more difficult it may be to experience a positive outcome, but only if developmental processing has not taken place, exercise,” Smyth says. “the reason that athletic participation or exercise may be specifically helpful for keeping youth away from vices could have to do with a strong feeling of satisfaction during and after participation.” “[Drugs, alcohol, and gang affiliation] offer the adolescent who is searching for gratification the same gratification as that of sport,” states Smyth. “thus sport is obviously the positive route to go down offering both individual and team based belonging, internal sense of worth, mental and physical stimulation with the resulting internal neurological feelings that the body associates with “feeling nice”. Drugs, alcohol and gang affiliation also offer these outcomes but clearly are of a negative context.”Surrey programs such as Code Blue, Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Athletics for Kids, and the Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s Youth Everlasting Seeds (Y.E.S) are just a few of the many after school programs working hard to keep Surrey’s youth fit and living a productive, crime-free life. All have seen the psychological and developmental impact that Smyth mentions.

Surrey programs such as Code Blue, Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Athletics for Kids, and the Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s Youth Everlasting Seeds (Y.E.S) are just a few of the many after school programs working hard to keep Surrey’s youth fit and living a productive, crime-free life. All have seen the psychological and developmental impact that Smyth mentions.The Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s focus has been to reach far beyond sports participation as a method to shape positive lifestyles for youth, but their latest program (Y.E.S) is centered around giving young girls a weekly opportunity to develop their social and physical skills through sports like soccer, basketball, etc. “When I first came [to Y.E.S] I was shy, timid, and easily intimidated by others.” says Sarah M. “However, now I have learned new skills and grown to be a stronger, and much more confident version of myself. Before Y.E.S, I played tennis and soccer as a kid, but I stopped as I grew older. When playing with the girls, I was in a more positive mood and energized. The program rekindled and introduced me to my love for sports. It even motivated to me try out for my school’s soccer team. I gained friends, skills, and a new perspective. Y.E.S. gave me an opportunity and skills that I can now take beyond the field or court.”

The Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s focus has been to reach far beyond sports participation as a method to shape positive lifestyles for youth, but their latest program (Y.E.S) is centered around giving young girls a weekly opportunity to develop their social and physical skills through sports like soccer, basketball, etc. “When I first came [to Y.E.S] I was shy, timid, and easily intimidated by others.” says Sarah M. “However, now I have learned new skills and grown to be a stronger, and much more confident version of myself. Before Y.E.S, I played tennis and soccer as a kid, but I stopped as I grew older. When playing with the girls, I was in a more positive mood and energized. The program rekindled and introduced me to my love for sports. It even motivated to me try out for my school’s soccer team. I gained friends, skills, and a new perspective. Y.E.S. gave me an opportunity and skills that I can now take beyond the field or court.”

Other young girls in Surrey such as 14-year-old Samantha Ogbeiwi, have found support through organizations like Athletics For Kids whose goal is to work with schools and the community so they can be made aware of students who would like to participate in sport but would not otherwise have the means to pay for the supplies or fees to take part. “I am very blessed and thankful that my kids are involved in sports.” Says Samantha’s mom, Daahyo. “Sports have taught them [her two children] many life lessons. They have been through a lot of ups and downs but pull through when they think all hope is lost. I’ve seen Sam grown into a fine young girl with a hard-working attitude and strong work ethic that has moved her into excellence in many ways.” Daahyo’s son, 12-year-old Michael, is a Canadian record-holding shotput and discuss thrower for his age; he has also been fortunate to receive assistance from Athletics For Kids. “Being in sports has given Michael a lot of confidence and brought out the best in him, doing things that he wouldn’t normally do.” Daahyo says, “Thank you A4k for giving Michael an opportunity to play sports.”

Athletics For Kids Executive Director, Sandy Hancock has worked tirelessly to find youths like Samantha and Michael in Surrey and beyond who need this type of financial assistance. She and the program have provided 85 grants for youth in Surrey alone-over 1000 overall-this past year. *Multiple grants may have been given to one athlete as long as the sports were not overlapping in the same season.

Samantha and Sandy’s interview with Global Morning News can be seen here

In the interview, Samantha made it very clear how her dreams to participate in a sport would not have been financially possible without the assistance from Athletics for Kids. Between travel expenses, equipment expenses and various other fees participating in sport is very expensive. Depending on the province, the average Canadian household spends over $1000 a year for their children to take part in organized athletics as stated in the 2015 ParcipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. A further breakdown by sport reveals that of the cheaper sports to participate in, swimming will still cost a family $400 per child per year. Hockey, undeniably Canadian youths most popular sport, can cost upwards to $15oo. It’s no surprise that 90% of parents asked said that youth sport is too expensive. The report also shows that 61% of parents say that cost of enrollment fees are the reason why 3-17-year-olds don’t participate in sport while 52% say that the cost of equipment is the reason. In parts of Surrey like City Centre, Whalley, Guilford where the median household income is less than $70,000, convincing parents to shell out so much money for sport is a tough ask. For families that are making far less than that, it is nearly impossible without these programs. In each of those neighborhoods-Newton now included- an average of 7.6% of the population over 15-years-old isn’t bringing home any income at all.

Some of today’s community leaders have seen the dark side of the world we hope youth will avoid first-hand. Joe Calendino, co-founder of Yo Bro|Yo Girl Initiative was once a member of the Hell’s Angel’s until his life got turned upside down and he decided he needed to start making better use of his time by helping youths stay off the same path he once rode down. Joe was one of the scrapper’s in the crew. He would later take his street-fighting skills and earn a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. When starting the program, structured martial arts was not in the curriculum, yet, as soon as it was implemented into the routine, it was a great success. “When I first started things,” Joe recalls, “it was first presentations, then from presentations, it moved to drug and gang talks.”

It wasn’t until he met an educator, now his wife, Brenda, who has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology from UBC, that they begin to incorporate athletics into the program. Joe goes onto say, “As we developed the curriculum, one of the staples of the program was physical fitness. Through the physical fitness, I started to see that these kids would engage and connect.” Kids who choose to take part in the program are now following in Joe’s footsteps doing Jiu Jitsu, grappling, wrestling, etc. Keeping the kids to come week-in-week-out is not an easy task and requires building deep levels of trust. Joe and his team are devoted to building that trust with as many youths they are introduced to through the city and the school systems they are connected with. Yo Bro|Yo Girl is there to guide youth along the right path. Continued growth is essential but requires youths to take the first step to join (and then stay in) the program if not introduced. As Joe put it so wonderfully, “We’re putting our hands out, we’re not here giving handouts.”

Going beyond the call of duty, the RCMP runs many programs and events that are centered around physical fitness. One of their main programs which has grown exponentially in recent years is Code Blue. RCMP officers are already putting their lives on the line to keep the community safe and free of drugs and violence, but they know better than most that doing just that requires more time and effort than a regular shift.

Sergeant Neil Kennedy now runs the 5-year-old program that was initially started by Constable Troy Derrick in 2012 when he felt the need to assist two brothers from South Surrey from potentially heading down a path of crime later in life, so he asked the young boys if they wanted to work out with him; they accepted. Eventually, the brothers were enjoying the workout program so much; they began to invite their friends. Today, the program is working with eight secondary schools and this year; Code Blue introduced their extension of the program, Mini Blue, which works with grades 5-7 as opposed to Code Blue’s 8-12 graders. “Four years ago,” Sgt. Kennedy remembers, “the RCMP youth unit decided to join Cst. Derrick and offer a program around the same fashion: a fitness based mentorship program that is open to all abilities, those with special abilities, and those not connected to the school community.” Sgt. Kennedy also stressed that Physical activity was a positive tool to help create and build relationships between police officers and youths, particularly in the Mini Blue Program.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpePLDxCA5A

The hope is that the more youths engage with the police in a fun setting-fun being the operative word-the more youths will want to cooperate with the police outside of this more controlled setting thus preventing more crime in the future. In fact, 97% of all Canadians (youths 15-19 included) say that fun and relaxation as being “very important” or “somewhat important” benefit of sport as stated in the 2010 Sport Participation Research Paper published in 2013 by Statistics Canada.

Another mission of Code Blue, the aforementioned programs, and a majority of the youth programs in Surrey is to keep kids engaged after the school day ends. Felix Kongyuy, director of the Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society, told me, “We are trying very hard to keep kids away from playing so many video games and watching so much television.” The sad reality of our modern world is that only 9% of Canadian youths aged 5-17 take part in the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity per day according to the 2015 ParcipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. And, when youths cannot be found hitting the target 60 minutes of higher-level physical activity, they can be seen watching television for an average of an hour and a half per day. When 6-17-year-olds where asked what they like to do in their free time, a vast majority of them said things like “watch TV” or “play video games.” Programs like Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Boabab Inclusive Empowerment Society, Athletics for Kids, and Code Blue need to be able to reach as many at-risk youths as possible to keep youths engaged and safe. It helps when there are sharp gains in volunteerism like there has been over the last five years. As seen in a paper written by Mireille Vézina and Susan Crompton in 2013 entitled Volunteerism in Canada, Volunteerism has risen by 12.5% across Canada since 2004.

The city of Surrey is determined to make its streets safe and clear of drugs, violence and any other vice that can harm your children’s future, Surrey’s youths future. After School initiatives like Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Boabab Inclusive Empowerment Society, Athletics for Kids, and Code Blue and the dozens of others are already giving the opportunity to thousands of at-risk youth, but there are many more youths that still need a chance, and you can help them. If you cannot donate your time, please visit websites like www.a4k.ca, www.baobabinclusive.ca, ybyg.ca, or any other local Surrey athletic program to learn more about the city’s great programs, make a contribution, or at least leave a positive message to let these important community leaders know that what their devotion to your children is not being looked over. Connecting with city officials within the public safety division as well as parks & recreation is encouraged too.

In the words of Sgt. Kennedy, “We have the future in our hands with these youths, our future doctors, our future police officers, our future lawyers, service workers, construction workers. We also know have the next percentage of criminals, people making bad decisions, so while we can, while we have them in the school system and while they’re young and can be influenced we want to do everything that we can to connect with them to help them facilitate healthy lifestyle choices. We know that youths that are connected and cared for and valued, that they have that sense of belonging whether it be in the school community or the community at large, we know that these youth do better, they do better at school, they do better at home, they make better decisions, they’re more socially responsible. We know that we have a part in solving what could be our future problems. We need to get involved earlier, and we’re going to do that through our prevention and intervention programs.” Follow the message of Sgt. Kennedy and the hundreds of community leaders that are already doing their part to make Surrey the safe, thriving community that we know it is capable of becoming.

Published

on

To describe the city of Surrey as a place where drugs are flowing through the streets like water and passersby are dodging bullets that are flying through the air might be an exaggeration, but sadly, it is not a complete mischaracterization of the troubles the Metro Vancouver’s 2nd-most populated municipality has had to deal with in the last many years.  According to data compiled by Maclean’s from Statistics Canada, in 2010, Surrey ranked as the 8th most dangerous city (with at least 10,000 residents) in the country. This week alone there have been three reported incidents of shots fired, thankfully with no victims.

Despite amped-up efforts to combat crime and drug offenders leading to steep decreases in crime in 2016, this past year Surrey placed 10th across the nation regarding total drug violations-the rate of offenses was twice the average Canadian city. Surrey also took 6th-place “honors” when it came to firearms use-most likely related to the surge in gang related violence throughout Surrey since 2009. Not to mention its residents placed the city as one of the nation’s top offenders for child pornography (4th), fraud (2nd), breaking and entering (8th), robbery (6th), motor vehicle theft (3rd), and is the 9th-ranked city according to the violent crime severity index. Sadly, many youths have not only been part of these ongoing crimes but have been the victims of them as well.

This influx in crime pushed Surrey’s government leaders to create a thorough public safety strategy that urges all levels of government, the RCMP, and the community as a whole to become more proactive in keeping its citizens-especially youth-away from vices like drug usage and gang affiliation. The effort that has taken place is making a difference. So far in the first quarter of 2017, there is a continued decrease in every category of crime in Surrey. However, more must be done to eventually eradicate all crime (or at least the majority of it). Dozens of programs created by the city are focused on socialization, education, and development of youth and much more with this target in mind. Many privately-run organizations have popped up as well in recent years with the hope of creating other ways to keep today’s youths off Surrey’s streets. One method that many groups have found to be particularly successful in doing so for all ages and both sexes is their athletic initiatives, something that is not surprising according to psychodynamic counselor Daniel Smyth, the creator of Sport and Thought, Football as Therapy in the United Kingdom.

The impact of exercise is incredible no matter one’s age, but there are important benefits of exercise that are particular to youth. “The later we become involved in sport the more difficult it may be to experience a positive outcome, but only if developmental processing has not taken place, exercise,” Smyth says. “the reason that athletic participation or exercise may be specifically helpful for keeping youth away from vices could have to do with a strong feeling of satisfaction during and after participation.” “[Drugs, alcohol, and gang affiliation] offer the adolescent who is searching for gratification the same gratification as that of sport,” states Smyth. “thus sport is obviously the positive route to go down offering both individual and team based belonging, internal sense of worth, mental and physical stimulation with the resulting internal neurological feelings that the body associates with “feeling nice”. Drugs, alcohol and gang affiliation also offer these outcomes but clearly are of a negative context.”Surrey programs such as Code Blue, Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Athletics for Kids, and the Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s Youth Everlasting Seeds (Y.E.S) are just a few of the many after school programs working hard to keep Surrey’s youth fit and living a productive, crime-free life. All have seen the psychological and developmental impact that Smyth mentions.

Surrey programs such as Code Blue, Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Athletics for Kids, and the Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s Youth Everlasting Seeds (Y.E.S) are just a few of the many after school programs working hard to keep Surrey’s youth fit and living a productive, crime-free life. All have seen the psychological and developmental impact that Smyth mentions.The Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s focus has been to reach far beyond sports participation as a method to shape positive lifestyles for youth, but their latest program (Y.E.S) is centered around giving young girls a weekly opportunity to develop their social and physical skills through sports like soccer, basketball, etc. “When I first came [to Y.E.S] I was shy, timid, and easily intimidated by others.” says Sarah M. “However, now I have learned new skills and grown to be a stronger, and much more confident version of myself. Before Y.E.S, I played tennis and soccer as a kid, but I stopped as I grew older. When playing with the girls, I was in a more positive mood and energized. The program rekindled and introduced me to my love for sports. It even motivated to me try out for my school’s soccer team. I gained friends, skills, and a new perspective. Y.E.S. gave me an opportunity and skills that I can now take beyond the field or court.”

The Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society’s focus has been to reach far beyond sports participation as a method to shape positive lifestyles for youth, but their latest program (Y.E.S) is centered around giving young girls a weekly opportunity to develop their social and physical skills through sports like soccer, basketball, etc. “When I first came [to Y.E.S] I was shy, timid, and easily intimidated by others.” says Sarah M. “However, now I have learned new skills and grown to be a stronger, and much more confident version of myself. Before Y.E.S, I played tennis and soccer as a kid, but I stopped as I grew older. When playing with the girls, I was in a more positive mood and energized. The program rekindled and introduced me to my love for sports. It even motivated to me try out for my school’s soccer team. I gained friends, skills, and a new perspective. Y.E.S. gave me an opportunity and skills that I can now take beyond the field or court.”

Other young girls in Surrey such as 14-year-old Samantha Ogbeiwi, have found support through organizations like Athletics For Kids whose goal is to work with schools and the community so they can be made aware of students who would like to participate in sport but would not otherwise have the means to pay for the supplies or fees to take part. “I am very blessed and thankful that my kids are involved in sports.” Says Samantha’s mom, Daahyo. “Sports have taught them [her two children] many life lessons. They have been through a lot of ups and downs but pull through when they think all hope is lost. I’ve seen Sam grown into a fine young girl with a hard-working attitude and strong work ethic that has moved her into excellence in many ways.” Daahyo’s son, 12-year-old Michael, is a Canadian record-holding shotput and discuss thrower for his age; he has also been fortunate to receive assistance from Athletics For Kids. “Being in sports has given Michael a lot of confidence and brought out the best in him, doing things that he wouldn’t normally do.” Daahyo says, “Thank you A4k for giving Michael an opportunity to play sports.”

Athletics For Kids Executive Director, Sandy Hancock has worked tirelessly to find youths like Samantha and Michael in Surrey and beyond who need this type of financial assistance. She and the program have provided 85 grants for youth in Surrey alone-over 1000 overall-this past year. *Multiple grants may have been given to one athlete as long as the sports were not overlapping in the same season.

Samantha and Sandy’s interview with Global Morning News can be seen here

In the interview, Samantha made it very clear how her dreams to participate in a sport would not have been financially possible without the assistance from Athletics for Kids. Between travel expenses, equipment expenses and various other fees participating in sport is very expensive. Depending on the province, the average Canadian household spends over $1000 a year for their children to take part in organized athletics as stated in the 2015 ParcipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. A further breakdown by sport reveals that of the cheaper sports to participate in, swimming will still cost a family $400 per child per year. Hockey, undeniably Canadian youths most popular sport, can cost upwards to $15oo. It’s no surprise that 90% of parents asked said that youth sport is too expensive. The report also shows that 61% of parents say that cost of enrollment fees are the reason why 3-17-year-olds don’t participate in sport while 52% say that the cost of equipment is the reason. In parts of Surrey like City Centre, Whalley, Guilford where the median household income is less than $70,000, convincing parents to shell out so much money for sport is a tough ask. For families that are making far less than that, it is nearly impossible without these programs. In each of those neighborhoods-Newton now included- an average of 7.6% of the population over 15-years-old isn’t bringing home any income at all.

Some of today’s community leaders have seen the dark side of the world we hope youth will avoid first-hand. Joe Calendino, co-founder of Yo Bro|Yo Girl Initiative was once a member of the Hell’s Angel’s until his life got turned upside down and he decided he needed to start making better use of his time by helping youths stay off the same path he once rode down. Joe was one of the scrapper’s in the crew. He would later take his street-fighting skills and earn a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. When starting the program, structured martial arts was not in the curriculum, yet, as soon as it was implemented into the routine, it was a great success. “When I first started things,” Joe recalls, “it was first presentations, then from presentations, it moved to drug and gang talks.”

It wasn’t until he met an educator, now his wife, Brenda, who has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology from UBC, that they begin to incorporate athletics into the program. Joe goes onto say, “As we developed the curriculum, one of the staples of the program was physical fitness. Through the physical fitness, I started to see that these kids would engage and connect.” Kids who choose to take part in the program are now following in Joe’s footsteps doing Jiu Jitsu, grappling, wrestling, etc. Keeping the kids to come week-in-week-out is not an easy task and requires building deep levels of trust. Joe and his team are devoted to building that trust with as many youths they are introduced to through the city and the school systems they are connected with. Yo Bro|Yo Girl is there to guide youth along the right path. Continued growth is essential but requires youths to take the first step to join (and then stay in) the program if not introduced. As Joe put it so wonderfully, “We’re putting our hands out, we’re not here giving handouts.”

Going beyond the call of duty, the RCMP runs many programs and events that are centered around physical fitness. One of their main programs which has grown exponentially in recent years is Code Blue. RCMP officers are already putting their lives on the line to keep the community safe and free of drugs and violence, but they know better than most that doing just that requires more time and effort than a regular shift.

Sergeant Neil Kennedy now runs the 5-year-old program that was initially started by Constable Troy Derrick in 2012 when he felt the need to assist two brothers from South Surrey from potentially heading down a path of crime later in life, so he asked the young boys if they wanted to work out with him; they accepted. Eventually, the brothers were enjoying the workout program so much; they began to invite their friends. Today, the program is working with eight secondary schools and this year; Code Blue introduced their extension of the program, Mini Blue, which works with grades 5-7 as opposed to Code Blue’s 8-12 graders. “Four years ago,” Sgt. Kennedy remembers, “the RCMP youth unit decided to join Cst. Derrick and offer a program around the same fashion: a fitness based mentorship program that is open to all abilities, those with special abilities, and those not connected to the school community.” Sgt. Kennedy also stressed that Physical activity was a positive tool to help create and build relationships between police officers and youths, particularly in the Mini Blue Program.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpePLDxCA5A

The hope is that the more youths engage with the police in a fun setting-fun being the operative word-the more youths will want to cooperate with the police outside of this more controlled setting thus preventing more crime in the future. In fact, 97% of all Canadians (youths 15-19 included) say that fun and relaxation as being “very important” or “somewhat important” benefit of sport as stated in the 2010 Sport Participation Research Paper published in 2013 by Statistics Canada.

Another mission of Code Blue, the aforementioned programs, and a majority of the youth programs in Surrey is to keep kids engaged after the school day ends. Felix Kongyuy, director of the Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society, told me, “We are trying very hard to keep kids away from playing so many video games and watching so much television.” The sad reality of our modern world is that only 9% of Canadian youths aged 5-17 take part in the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity per day according to the 2015 ParcipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. And, when youths cannot be found hitting the target 60 minutes of higher-level physical activity, they can be seen watching television for an average of an hour and a half per day. When 6-17-year-olds where asked what they like to do in their free time, a vast majority of them said things like “watch TV” or “play video games.” Programs like Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Boabab Inclusive Empowerment Society, Athletics for Kids, and Code Blue need to be able to reach as many at-risk youths as possible to keep youths engaged and safe. It helps when there are sharp gains in volunteerism like there has been over the last five years. As seen in a paper written by Mireille Vézina and Susan Crompton in 2013 entitled Volunteerism in Canada, Volunteerism has risen by 12.5% across Canada since 2004.

The city of Surrey is determined to make its streets safe and clear of drugs, violence and any other vice that can harm your children’s future, Surrey’s youths future. After School initiatives like Yo Bro|Yo Girl, Boabab Inclusive Empowerment Society, Athletics for Kids, and Code Blue and the dozens of others are already giving the opportunity to thousands of at-risk youth, but there are many more youths that still need a chance, and you can help them. If you cannot donate your time, please visit websites like www.a4k.ca, www.baobabinclusive.ca, ybyg.ca, or any other local Surrey athletic program to learn more about the city’s great programs, make a contribution, or at least leave a positive message to let these important community leaders know that what their devotion to your children is not being looked over. Connecting with city officials within the public safety division as well as parks & recreation is encouraged too.

In the words of Sgt. Kennedy, “We have the future in our hands with these youths, our future doctors, our future police officers, our future lawyers, service workers, construction workers. We also know have the next percentage of criminals, people making bad decisions, so while we can, while we have them in the school system and while they’re young and can be influenced we want to do everything that we can to connect with them to help them facilitate healthy lifestyle choices. We know that youths that are connected and cared for and valued, that they have that sense of belonging whether it be in the school community or the community at large, we know that these youth do better, they do better at school, they do better at home, they make better decisions, they’re more socially responsible. We know that we have a part in solving what could be our future problems. We need to get involved earlier, and we’re going to do that through our prevention and intervention programs.” Follow the message of Sgt. Kennedy and the hundreds of community leaders that are already doing their part to make Surrey the safe, thriving community that we know it is capable of becoming.

Hailing from New York. Adam moved to Vancouver at the start of 2016. Adam is a life long sports fan who has written about lacrosse, baseball, basketball and even Muay Thai.

Education

Enver Creek Secondary student awarded largest Canadian STEM scholarship

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For this year, number of scholarships doubles to 100

Tejash Poddar has been selected to receive a $100,000 Schulich Leader Scholarship to study Engineering at Simon Fraser University.

A graduate of Enver Creek Secondary in Surrey, Tejash will be entering the Engineering Science this Fall. He was selected by Ms A. van Dyk for his outstanding academic excellence and leadership achievements.

Given the unparalleled current disruption, there is a much greater need for students to get financial support in order to pursue their university education. This year, The Schulich Foundation has decided to award an additional 50 scholarships, for a total of 100.

“Schulich Leader Scholarships are the premiere STEM scholarship program in Canada and the world. With 100 outstanding students selected in Canada this year, it is all but guaranteed that this group will represent the best and brightest Canada has to offer. These future leaders will make great contributions to society, both on a national and global scale.

With their university expenses covered, they can focus their time on their studies, research projects, extracurriculars, and entrepreneurial ventures. They are the next generation of technology innovators,” says Mr. Schulich.

(When asked):
How did it feel to receive the notice of offer for the scholarship? How will this scholarship help you reach your goals?

(Tejash) :
“It was surreal first hearing the words over the phone – I could barely finish my sentences as I spoke. Looking back at it, everything really is a blur, but I am glad I was able to share the experience with my family around me.”

“I believe that sharing innovation is the key to driving innovation, and I plan to collaborate and grow with the people around me. I am incredibly grateful to be part of the Schulich Leader network, and I look forward to meeting new people and building relations in order to further pursue opportunities in the STEM field.”

About Schulich Leader Scholarships Canada

Recognizing the increasing importance and impact that STEM disciplines will have on the prosperity of future generations, businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich established this $100+ million scholarship fund in 2012 to encourage our best and brightest students to become Schulich Leader Scholars: the next generation of entrepreneurial-minded, technology innovators.

Through The Schulich Foundation, these prestigious entrance scholarships are awarded to 100 high school graduates this year, enrolling in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) undergraduate program at 20 partner universities in Canada.

Every high school in Canada can submit one Schulich Leader Nominee per academic year based on academic excellence in STEM, entrepreneurial leadership and financial need.

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Education

Hundreds Enjoy Surrey Libraries EXPO

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Surrey, BC – Hundreds of families joined Surrey Libraries at the inaugural Surrey Libraries EXPO on Saturday January 25th at the Guildford Town Centre to celebrate Family Literacy Day. The EXPO showcased some of the wonderful and varied programs and services offered at Surrey Libraries.

Participants got an opportunity to try their hand at stop motion animation, Dot and Dash Robotics, and have their photo turned into a vintage photo by using green screen technology. There was a mini escape room, and even a pop-up library where people could register for free library cards and borrow books, DVDs, and books on CD.

“This year’s theme for Family Literacy week is ‘Take 20!’ and encourages families to take 20 minutes and make learning together part of every day,” said Mayor Doug McCallum who was there to help kick off the EXPO. “We know literacy is an essential skill that directly impacts people’s quality of life and their ability to earn a good living. That’s why it’s so important to promote literacy and this is where Surrey Libraries plays an essential role in our community.”

Family Literacy Day is a national initiative involving annual literacy-related events and activities held at the end of January to raise awareness of the importance of literacy.

“We’re delighted that so many people came out to explore Surrey Libraries and our diverse programming,” said Surinder Bhogal, Chief Librarian. “The 21st century library offers so much more than books, and Surrey Libraries works to connect people, spark their curiosity and inspire learning.”

Surrey Libraries EXPO is one of many programs and events hosted by Surrey Libraries in support of literacy. More information on Surrey Libraries’ programs and events can be found at: https://surreylibraries.ca/events.

Children enjoying a puppet storytime at the EXPO.

Learning how snail mail worked before electronics.

A family having fun with the green screen technology.

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Education

Surrey Libraries Support Learners Obtain Google IT Support Certificate

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Graduates from the first cohort of the Google IT Support Certificate program along with the Honourable Harry Bains, MLA, Jinny Simms, MLA, and Councillor Mandeep Nagra, just after receiving their certificates on January 24.

Surrey, BC – BC’s tech industry is booming and there aren’t enough people with the skills required to fill the jobs that are available. This is what Google Canada realized and to help remedy the situation, last year they teamed up with Surrey Libraries and three other libraries across Canada to provide scholarships to hundreds of individuals to get trained in the Google IT Support Certificate Program (GISC Program).

Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate is aimed to prepare participants to become ready for an entry-level job in IT support in about eight months, with no experience required. This certificate is part of Grow with Google, an initiative focused on helping everyone across Canada access the best of Google’s training and tools to grow their skills, careers and business.

In addition to identifying students eligible to receive the Google scholarships, Surrey Libraries provided the students with online instruction and in-person learning facilitation by a dedicated Google IT Support Certificate Site Lead Librarian. Scholarships and funding for the Site Lead Librarian were supported through a generous Google.org grant.

The first cohort of 50 learners started the program in April 2019 and so far, 37 students from that group have finished the GISC Program and some have already landed jobs in the tech industry. Learners were provided wraparound supports including learning circles, opportunity to tour a local tech company, as well as presentations and workshops from the City of Surrey’s IT Department, WorkBC, and TLC Solutions.

“This program was very well run and helpful in getting my foot in the door to IT. I received amazing support from Surrey Libraries, and I enjoyed a lot of aspects of how this course was set up and how it was executed.” Said graduating student, Monica Mah “Having other learners to turn to weekly was very helpful in providing motivation, knowledge, and amusement. I feel more confident to be able to look for a job in the IT field.”

“We’re so pleased Surrey Libraries was chosen by Google to help support this program,” said Surinder Bhogal, Chief Librarian at Surrey Libraries. “Surrey is the fastest growing city in British Columbia, with a diverse and talented population. The program also aligns well with one of the library’s objectives to support digital skills development in preparation for a stronger workforce.”

A second set of learners are about to embark on their learning journey in March. People interested in the GISC Program are invited to attend an information session on Wednesday, January 29 at Surrey Libraries – City Centre Branch, Room 402 at 6:30 pm. Call 604-598-7426 to register.

About Surrey Libraries

Surrey Libraries is a valued community institution and one of the most-used community services in Surrey. The library welcomes around 2.7 million visits to our nine branches each year, and over two million visits to our online resources. Surrey Libraries runs hundreds of programs and services for children, youth, and adults to support their diverse learning needs. Serving the community since 1983, Surrey Libraries strives to connect people, spark curiosity, and inspire learning. Find out more about Surrey Libraries and our diverse programming at surreylibraries.ca.

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Education

SFU’s next president eyes “new era of potential”

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University appoints Joy Johnson as its 10th president and vice-chancellor

Simon Fraser University’s Board of Governors has appointed professor Joy Johnson as the university’s next president and vice-chancellor, following an extensive community consultation and international search process.

Johnson, SFU’s current vice-president research and international, will take office on Sept. 1 2020. She succeeds Andrew Petter, who completes his term on August 31 after a decade of distinguished service.

“Over the course of this competitive process, professor Johnson stood out from other candidates for her depth of academic and research experience, commitment to students and enthusiasm for the future of SFU,” says Fiona Robin, chair of SFU’s Board of Governors and chair of the presidential search committee. “We are thrilled to announce that professor Johnson is the successful candidate and look forward to welcoming her into this new role.”

A strong supporter of academic and research excellence, and a leader in nurturing and building community partnerships, Johnson is also committed to vibrant student learning experiences, equity, diversity and inclusion, and Aboriginal reconciliation.

“SFU is a remarkable institution at a remarkable time in its history,” says Johnson, who becomes the university’s second woman president. “We continue to attract world-class students, faculty, and staff, and we are stepping into a new era of potential.”

Johnson, who has been in her current role at SFU since 2014, is widely respected in academic and research communities. Under her leadership, SFU’s research income has grown from $103 million in 2014 to $161 million today, making it the fastest growing research income of any university in Canada.

During her tenure, the university established its innovation strategy—SFU Innovates—launched its big data initiative, secured two Canada 150 chairs and became host to Canada’s most powerful academic supercomputer. The university also became a founding partner in the City of Surrey’s burgeoning Health and Technology District and established collaborative research partnerships around the world.

“I love being part of SFU—so much is possible here as we develop new learning opportunities, enhance student support and services, expand our facilities, strengthen our research infrastructure, and forge new partnerships,” says Johnson. “It’s my great privilege to have the opportunity to serve as President and Vice-Chancellor, and I look forward to getting started.”

BACKGROUND

Johnson completed her PhD in nursing at the University of Alberta, and is a former professor in the University of British Columbia’s School of Nursing.

Before joining SFU, Johnson had an impressive academic and research career in the health sciences. Her research focused on how environments and social dynamics influence health outcomes and opportunities, particularly among youth.

Her commitment to research led to her role as scientific director with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Gender and Health, setting the institute’s strategy and building opportunities for researchers.

Johnson is an elected Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2019).

She is the co-author of more than 180 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has led several initiatives that mobilized research insights to influence practice and policy.

Read more about Joy Johnson

About Simon Fraser University:

As Canada’s engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change. We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today’s problems. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties that deliver 193 undergraduate degree programs and 127 graduate degree programs to more than 35,000 students. The university now boasts more than 160,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.

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Education

Surrey Libraries Recommends Books to Read Before the New Decade Dawns

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Fill your holiday season with literacy, light and joy!

Surrey, BC – Readers in Surrey like a good thriller as several mysteries and thrillers topped the list of adult fiction books that were the most borrowed from the library in 2019.

If you’re in the mood for a crime thriller, Surrey Libraries staff recommend David Baldacci’s Redemption or Long Road to Mercy. Surprisingly, older titles including George Orwell’s classic dystopia 1984, eerie parable Animal Farm, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and J.D. Salinger’s classic teen angst novel Catcher in the Rye also made the most borrowed list.

Here’s the top 20 adult fiction books borrowed from Surrey Libraries in 2019:

Rank Book Title Author
1 Where the Crawdads Sing Delia Owens
2 Past Tense Lee Child
3 Dark Sacred Night Michael Connelly
4 The Reckoning John Grisham
5 1984 George Orwell
6 Kingdom of the Blind Louise Penny
7 Long Road to Mercy David Baldacci
8 Tattooist of Auschwitz Heather Morris
9 Clockmakers Daughter Kate Morton
10 Nine Perfect Strangers Liane Moriarty
11 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
12 Crazy Rich Asians Kevin Kwan
13 Redemption David Baldacci
14 A Spark of Light Jodi Picoult
15 Washington Black Esi Edugyan
16 The Great Alone Kristin Hannah
17 Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
18 A Better Man Louise Penny
19 Animal Farm George Orwell
20 Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

People interested in borrowing any of these titles can find the complete list and check for their availability online at https://bit.ly/35AmBd7.

If there isn’t something on the list of the most borrowed books in 2019 that is of interest, Surrey Libraries staff have also put together their picks of the best titles from 2019 called Fireside Reads for Winter. The list and availability of titles can be found online at https://bit.ly/2rbhcdF.

Surrey Libraries also has eBooks and eAudiobooks available for patrons to download and read on their phones or tablets. Visit www.surreylibraries.ca to find a title that interests you!

Here’s the top 15 eBooks borrowed from Surrey Libraries in 2019:

Rank eBook Title Author
1 Little Fires Everywhere Celeste Ng
2 Past tense Lee Child
3 The Reckoning John Grisham
4 Nine Perfect Strangers Liane Moriarty
5 Long Road to Mercy David Baldacci
6 Dark Sacred Night Michael Connelly
7 Becoming Michelle Obama
8 Educated Tara Westover
9 The Wife between Us Greer Hendricks
10 Where the Crawdads Sing Delia Owens
11 Tattooist of Auschwitz Heather Morris
12 The Rooster Bar John Grisham
13 Kingdom of the Blind Louise Penny
14 The Great Alone Kristin Hannah
15 The Fallen David Baldacci

About Surrey Libraries

Surrey Libraries is a valued community institution and one of the most-used community services in Surrey. The Library welcomes around 2.7 million visits to its nine branches each year, and over two million visits to its online resources. Surrey Libraries runs hundreds of programs and services for children, youth, and adults to support their diverse learning needs. Serving the community since 1983, Surrey Libraries strives to be a leader in supporting creativity, connectivity, literacy, and lifelong learning. Find out more about Surrey Libraries and our diverse programming at www.surreylibraries.ca.

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