Right to Play and Runnymede Collegiate
The organization Right to Play may be better known as a charity that traditionally works in developing countries, but you may be surprised to hear the group also has a project at Jane and Dundas.
Runnymede Collegiate is home to a pilot project where high school students organize an after-school program for neighbouring George Syme Community School.
“It really does build a really safe and caring community,” said teacher Kristina Kotsopoulos, who leads the program at Runnymede. “That’s part of the goal with the program.
“Especially where our schools are located, there may not be a lot of opportunities for kids to get involved and go outside.”
In its first year in 2008 the program had 40 George Syme students take part in the once-a-week evening of fun and games.
Runnymede student-leader Lisa Ramraj has been teaching games to the elementary kids since the beginning and has seen the benefits.
“You just feel the energy and they love that you’re there playing games with them,” she said. “They actually want us there every day.
“It’s really taught me a lot. It’s taught me how to lead, how to deal with different situations.”
Her classmate and fellow instructor Alisa Persaud is happy with the one-hour of joy she can bring to George Syme.
“It’s taught me to be more patient with people, to understand their feelings and emotions, how they cope with things, the situations they’re put in at home,” she said. “We can help them here. If their situation is not so great at home, they can still let loose and have fun.
“We’re a part of that, I’m proud of that.”
Kotsopoulos is happy with the change she sees in high school students teaching sports to their younger peers.
“It’s great to have this avenue where it’s not just high school kids in their own school making a difference,” she said. “They really get to reach out and extend in their community.”