Toronto Community Housing showcases Class of 2008 "shining stars" at Youth Achievement Gala

    TORONTO, July 14 /CNW/ - Toronto Community Housing, in partnership with
York University, recognized exceptional young tenants who are graduating from
high school, college and university at its annual Youth Achievement Gala.
Sixty graduates from the Rexdale, York-Weston and Jane-Finch communities
joined family, friends, dignitaries and representatives from Toronto Community
Housing and York University at this celebration of academic excellence,
dedication and perseverance.
    "On behalf of Toronto Community Housing, I am very pleased to extend my
warmest congratulations to all the graduates at the 2008 Youth Achievement
Gala. These young people are Toronto Community Housing's shining stars," said
Derek Ballantyne, CEO of Toronto Community Housing.
    "Through their education, these graduates have demonstrated energy,
passion and determination. They have learned valuable lessons organizing
assignments, working in teams, getting feedback from teachers, researching new
concepts, and being resourceful throughout that process. This will serve them
well in the future as they pursue a trade, college, university and a career
that promises great opportunities and life options," Ballantyne said.
    The Youth Achievement Gala is part of Toronto Community Housing's
commitment to build safe and healthy communities. It started in 2006 when
staff, youth and tenant representatives in the York-Weston community responded
to gun violence claiming a prominent youth leader by creating an event to
highlight the area's "shining stars". The event has been held and grown in
size every year since.
    "This night signifies so much more than a dinner and a show; it
represents the community and that there are more people hoping for you to
succeed than wishing for you to fail," said Krystal Groves, the youth speaker
for the event.
    Last year, Ryerson's Tri-Mentoring program partnered with Toronto
Community Housing to host the event for the first time. It will also hold a
simultaneous event for youth in Toronto Community Housing communities located
downtown and in the east-end. A new partnership with York University has added
steam to the event by enabling Toronto Community Housing to accommodate more
    "York University is proud to partner with TCHC in support of youth
educational achievement and to stand behind young people who see the value of
celebrating success and inspiring success in others. These are extraordinary
graduates and we encourage them all to continue on the road to success and to
believe in their bright and vibrant futures," said Rhonda Lenton, Dean of
Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies.
    Hip-hop artist Subliminal provided the keynote address to students.
    "I am proud to be the keynote address for this event. As a community
mentor who has seen firsthand the obstacles Toronto Community Housing youth
face, there is nothing more fulfilling than telling a youth 'You can do it',
then see them pull through. Nothing ventured, nothing gained," said
    Performances included Toronto talent S. Davis and IZKids - a dance group
made of youth from the Islington/Dixon community in Toronto Community Housing
as well as an African drumming performance.

    Toronto Community Housing is Canada's largest social housing provider and
home to more than 164,000 tenants with low and moderate income - about six per
cent of the City of Toronto's population. These families, seniors, refugees,
recent immigrants and people with special needs reside in 58,500 households in
communities throughout Toronto.

For further information:

For further information: Taiwo Bah, Media Relations, Toronto Community
Housing, (416) 981-4218 or (416) 896-2169,;
Ryerson University:; York University:; Subliminal:

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