Friday, April 10, 2009

Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces Foundation

Throughout the past three weeks I have been doing work with the Herbert H Carnegie Future Aces Foundation in Markham, ON. Future Aces is affiliated with many schools throughout the Toronto District School Board and the surrounding area doing leadership and character work with a focus on at-risk youth. It was really neat to get some experience in an Educational role outside of the classroom. This charitable organization definitely does some amazing work. I first heard about them when I was in my last year of high school and got to hear Herb speak at my co-op placement.

My tasks included creating a student journal for the student trip to Chatham, ON; developing a couple of Intermediate Science Character lessons; working through evaluations from the November Leadership Conference (which is run annually for Grades 7-10); attending and supervising the trip to Chatham (36 high school students from 5 high schools in Toronto attended); and organizing the ACES Team (Leadership Team) for the Returning Faces Conference in May (a follow up to the Conference in November). During my placement I was also able to attend one of their high school presentations - it was the first presentation at a school that started a Future Aces club just this year.

The most eventful part of my placement was obviously the excursion to Chatham, ON. The trip lasted for two nights and I rode the bus both ways with the teacher supervisors and the students. We met up with the Future Aces staff there. It was a bit of a 'no man's land' for me to be there on the "organizers" side of things, but to not really have much of a role with them, and not have a direct responsibility for the students, as their teachers had. In any event, it was interesting and I got to see some pretty neat things.

We stopped at the RM Classic Car Exhibit.

Visited the North Buxton National Historic Site and Museum, located on what was the Elgin Settlement - a last stop on the Underground Railroad where many Black men, women, and families settled after escaping slavery.

Spent time at the W.I.S.H. Centre, part of the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society, where we got to meet and speak with Ken Milburn - the first paid black firefighter in the Chatham department as well as the first black captain (it is believed that he may have also been the first in Canada of at least one, if not both).

Had a tour of the Milner House and Museum (we had also been to the house the night before while on our "Ghost Tour", it was neat to be back during the day time when the kids were less afraid!). The Milner house was built in the late 1800s and was restored as a 1905 home. Apparently the phrase "put a sock in it" comes from this time as the gramophone did not have a volume control - one would be told to "put a sock in it" to muffle the sound.

Our final stop on the Underground Railroad was Uncle Tom's Cabin, built on a part of the large portion of land that was once the Dawn Settlement. Rev. Henson played a big role at this settlement and was made famous when the main character in Uncle Tom's Cabin was developed based on his life. A small museum is housed here were we saw some of the torture devices that were used on black slaves.

We also visited some important First Nations sites. Stopping briefly at the Tecumseh monument (it was almost horizontal snow, so we did not stay long) and spent the better part of our third day on Walpole Island (aka Bkejwanong) learning from and speaking with some of the First Nations Youths, Elders, and the Youth Director. It was a really interesting day there and I think the students learned a lot (I know I did). I did not take any pictures on the Island, but definitely have many memories to take from the experience.

One of the important aspects of this trip for the students were the consciousness thinking sessions with Courtney Kazembe. We did a condensed version of his Awakenings session and it was interesting to what it unfold while he worked with high school students instead of his usual "middle aged" audience. I have much to say about this and will leave it for it's own entry.

Be the new you.

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