Community initiatives offer local youth life-changing opportunities

Several of Scarborough’s at-risk youth prove that they’re not ones to count out when the going gets tough.

Curtis Carmichael, 18, is currently finishing up his first year at Queen’s University on a partial athletics scholarship. He was once a troubled youth who has since taken several big steps towards maturity.

Carmichael is majoring in physical education and intends to become a teacher. He is able to pay for his education with the help of scholarships awarded to him after achieving a 90 per cent average in high school. He now spends his summers helping other youth by teaching football at the notable summer camp Muskoka Woods.

Those who had known Carmichael throughout his adolescent years would never have predicted such achievements for the now ambitious young man who admits that he has come a long way becoming who he is today.

“My mentality was just to live day-to-day,” Carmichael said about his childhood. “I didn’t really care about school and just played basketball and caused trouble.”

Carmichael credits working with youth programs, particularly Urban Promise, which extends leadership and employment opportunities to youth in his community, with his new-found sense of direction.

“From Urban Promise, from the leaders – like Julius [Vincent Naredo]. I just saw that there was something more that I wanted.”

Carmichael began working with Urban Promise at the age of 15 and would continue to work with the organization until moving to Kingston for university.

Those who helped Carmichael on his journey are pleasantly surprised at his new outlook on his future.

“He was a terror,” said Julius Vincent Naredo, camp supervisor at Urban Promise. “But of all the kids I would say Curtis made the biggest improvement.”

Carmichael is not the only member of his community who has proven that he can overcome perilous circumstances in order to try to succeed in life.

I just saw that there was something more that I wanted.

— Curtis Carmichael

With the help of Grassroots Canada and its founder Ro Russell, aspiring professional basketball player Richard Amardi says he was able to put into motion a series of events that have led to the opportunity to study and play college basketball in Texas and Oklahoma, in addition to receiving an athletic scholarship from Weatherford College in Texas worth $35, 000.

Amardi says that in the face of adversity his peers face pressure to overcome financial problems through illegal means. Amardi offered the following advice to his peers who feel tempted to take the wrong route.

“Believe in yourself. Don’t think about what’s going to happen right now, think about when you make [a] decision [concerning your future] what’s going to happen 30 years from now,” Amardi warned. “If you don’t see anything good don’t make that decision. If you see something good from this decision then make it.”

2 comments:

  1. Way to go Urban Promise (UP). My girls as also learn alot from the right guidance from this program. They are good role models with great leadership skills which they acquired from UP all through their growing years. Fullfilling dreams and skills at both UP and Muskoka Woods. They have grown to be strong women.

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