Chris' children with some of their friends.
I am a parent, a research consultant, and Adjunct Professor at York University and have a son and daughter who have both recently graduated from TDSB schools.
As well as teaching at York, I have taught at the University of Toronto, Centennial College, and East York Collegiate. As a research consultant, my clients have included Public Health Departments, the United Way of Greater Toronto, and Parent Action on Drugs. My research projects have included surveys of community education needs and evaluations of student health programs.
As Trustee I am currently working on nine initiatives:
Nine Initiatives I am working in 2017/18:
1)Paid employment for people with intellectual disabilities
For most of us, our social networks come from our jobs and our families. A sense of purpose is the number one reason that people give when asked why they work. Yet many people are deprived of the opportunity to work, and many employers in Ontario are not aware of the incredible benefits, both social and for the bottom line, of employing people with special needs.
This year I will continue to organize Special Education Forum meetings with a focus on improving employment opportunities for students with special needs. At the end of last year, Joe Dale of the Ontario Disability Employment Network informed us that 86% of people with intellectual disabilities in Washington State have paid employment vs only 26% in Ontario. The Forum has begun to advocate for curriculum changes and to strengthen our partnerships with companies that can provide employment training and opportunities for students with special needs.
2)Addressing Community Violence
As a Trustee, I have learned that community violence impacts not only the perpetrator, the victim and their families, it impacts the neighbourhoods where the violence takes place. I will be bringing a report to the Board of Health advocating for a public health strategy to curb violence and its impacts. I am also working with social workers, the police and youth consellors like Elizabeth Correia (see Profile section) to address this issue.
3)A Community Centre for Etobicoke Centre!
I am also supporting the Community Hub Workgroup. It has always bothered me that Etobicoke Centre does not have a proper community centre like ones in other parts of the city with an indoor pools, gym, activity rooms, a place for everyone, but particularly for young people and seniors take part in activities. The Community Hub Workgroup has just completed a research project that asked the community what they wanted in their community centre. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the coordinator, Bozena Michalik, to Rev. Brian McIntosh who chairs the meetings, and all of members of this workgroup who are advocating on behalf of Etobicoke Centre. Please email me if you would like to get involved.
4)Bike Safety and the “Dutch Reach”
Last year while cycling, I was “doored”. An Uber driver stopped 3 feet out from the curb in a no stopping zone to let her passenger out, and he opened the door on me. There were at least 208 dooring incidents in Toronto last year, up from 125 in 2014. I am a member of the Toronto Board of Health and have brought forward a motion asking the city and province to take specific measures to reduce the number of doorings. This motion is being forwarded to the city’s Infrastructure Committee. While this motion works through the city process, there is something we can all do to reduce doorings. One of the measures, that we can all use to improve safety is to open car doors using the “Dutch reach”. In the Netherlands, all drivers and all passengers are taught that when they are exiting a car, they should open the door the hand furthest from the door. (For example, a driver would open the door with their right hand.) This forces the person to turn in their seat and do a shoulder check to make sure there is no one coming before they open their door. Please keep this in mind when you are exiting your car.
5) Sports Field Partnerships
I have initiated a pilot project in Etobicoke Centre schools that would see local sports clubs contribute money to improve the condition of school playgrounds in exchange for guaranteed permit times for a number of years. This year, the pilot has resulted in improved ball diamond maintenance at Hollycrest and Humber Valley Village. I’m hoping to get other schools involved and ultimately turn the pilot into a city-wide program.
6)Rejuvenating Kipling CI
Kipling CI is welcoming Principal Adil Askary. Principal Askary is working with students and staff to create a fresh new vision for Kipling Collegiate and has already visited businesses and neighbours to build a strong relationship between the school and the community. Principal Askary is also building on the science, tech and media production programs at the school. We’re all looking forward to an exciting year!
7)Partnerships at Central Etobicoke High School
I am proud to announce that in June the TDSB approved a partnership with a group called “Post-21”, a program for young people with complex needs (multiple disabilities) who are too old to attend TDSB programs. Post-21 will be leasing space in the school to offer innovative programming. Central Etobicoke already has a partnership with the Griffin Centre, takes and we are exploring other partnerships as well to make the best use
8)Keyboarding in Schools
Keyboarding is an essential skill for young people today, but it’s not taught in our schools. Following on a motion I made in May 2016, the TDSB conducted a pilot test of keyboarding in schools. The research report, presented to the TDSB on Oct. 5 was very positive. Students who had completed keyboarding lessons in grades 3 and 4 improved their technique, and although it caused them to slow down initially, ultimately their speed was improving as well. The question now is, how to prevent this from just being another report on the shelf? How do we get keyboarding taught to every TDSB student in grades 3 and 4? That is the next challenge I am working on.
9) Richview Bell
I think we’ve found the Richview Bell, but it may never be possible to determine if it is in fact the right bell. Found in a backyard just a few blocks from the school, it seems to be the right one. I’ll keep you posted on the progress through the Etobicoke Guardian.
As Trustee, I have held the following positions at the Board:
- Trustee Representative - Toronto Board of Health Board of Directors – Toronto Lands Corporation
- Chair – Human Resources Committee
- Trustee Representative – Budget Committee
- Co-Chair – Community Use of Schools Advisory Committee
- Trustee Representative – Community Education Advisory Committee
- Trustee Member – Strategic Directions Working Group
- Trustee Member – Technology Working Group
- Trustee Member – Administrative Space Working Group
- Trustee Organizer – Etobicoke Centre Ward Council
- Trustee Organizer – Etobicoke Centre Special Education Advisory Committee
- Trustee Organizer - Community and Youth Group
- Division 22 Community Police Liaison Committee
- International Partnerships Workgroup
- Trustee Member -- Aboriginal Advisory Committee