Seventy-five pupils from two classes at Firgrove elementary school in the Jane/Finch community recently spent a day at York as a part of the York/Westview Partnership’s Higher 5 pilot program.
The visitors (right and below) began the day at the Tait McKenzie gymnasium where they participated in a one-hour basketball clinic instructed by Bill Pangos, head coach of York’s women’s basketball, and three kinesiology students. The kids then toured the Toronto Track & Field Centre and were told about doing athletics and studying kinesiology at York. They spent the rest of the day touring the Computer Science Building, Curtis Lecture Halls, Central Square and Scott Library and viewing the Stan Douglas exhibit at the Art Gallery of York University.
The idea behind Higher 5 is to give 500 Grade 5 elementary school pupils in the York University neighbourhood a chance to experience what university is like. They engage in activities, hear about different programs from current students and take campus tours. These activities are then incorporated into their classroom curricula.
“Grade 5 students are fully engaged in their academic experience. They try their hardest, greet new challenges with confidence and participate enthusiastically in extracurricular activities,” says Jackie Robinson, coordinator of the York/Westview Partnership for York’s Faculty of Education. “A visit to campus will hopefully fuel their desire to strive for a postsecondary education.”
“Somewhere between grades 5 and 10, many of these same children disengage, often to the point of dropping out of school,” says Robinson. “It is critical that we make their studies relevant to their lives and keep the students interested and optimistic so that they will reap some future benefit from staying in school. Our hope is that every faculty will consider participating by putting together a half-day program that may indeed change kids’ lives,” she said.
The York/Westview Partnership started in 1992 as a collaboration of York University, Seneca College, the Toronto District School Board and their shared community. The partnership offers programs and activities designed to promote equity in public education and increase access to postsecondary opportunities for students living in the University’s neighbourhood.