Every year, thousands of vulnerable youth don't get a chance to realize their potential. At Trails, we don't believe it has to be this way. The right amount of guidance, support and structure could change everything. These seemingly simple things is what stands in between vulnerable youth in our communities from reaching their potential. Trails is about prevention. Helping our participants identify their strengths and imbuing them with a desire to seek further education and/or productive careers.
Trails recruits youth at the impressionable age of 12, offering opportunities to those facing barriers to success. Those chosen are deemed to have the potential, but not the support, to overcome the barriers. These barriers include single-parent families, recent immigrant families and exposure to risk factors including low income, violence, poor education, low physical and mental health, lack of family support, and a high-risk fragmented community.
I had so many great moments at Trails. The most I enjoyed was the Year 4 Summer Canoe Trip. On that trip I gained so much confidence in myself. I also improved my leadership skills. Trails helped me a lot over the years. I improved so much in school. I got my first 92% in art! I also got an 87% in history which I won an award for, and I got 100% on my culminating project! Trails has pushed me to become a better person in life. I am also so much better at home. I help a lot around the house and my family is really happy! I am so thankful that I am part of Trails, and I am really thankful that I have great people supporting me just like you.
First and foremost, we ensure the physical and emotional safety of our youth. We provide an environment where participants are accepted, supported and encouraged to be who they are.
We make activities fun. Fun has a positive effect on learners’ motivation and participation levels, determining what and how much information they retain. Our fun, adventure-based programming encourages growth and innate learning through play.
We provide participants with skills, knowledge and the confidence to use them. The development of these qualities will assist youth in making positive life decisions and achieving their goals beyond the confines of Trails. We create Roots at Trails and later encourage the development of Wings, so they have the confidence to live productively outside the confines of Trails.
We take great pride in knowing that the four year Trails model and the curriculum we've developed produce lasting results.
We have proof that we are on the right track:
Warren Clarke is one of the 2000 alumni of the Trails Programme. Warren began Trails at the age of 12 in 1992, was a member of Sweet and Sour Group, graduating in 1997. As a young boy Warren grew up in an inner city environment during early to mid-90s, and Trails became a place where he developed skills to grow up in this environment, the relevant knowledge to help deal with real-life issues, and the confidence to become responsible for his future.
In 2015 Warren graduated with a Masters in Anthropology from Guelph University. He has published pieces of his MA thesis research, Youth Outreach Work: Using Solidarity to Empower Youth, in the Canadian Anthropology Society Cultural News Letter “Social Movements and Solidarities” (Fall 2015). Warren's recent article submission to Youth Voice Journal was nominated and shortlisted for the Youth Research Project Award of the Year Category for the IARS Research and Youth Leadership Awards 2015.
O Rian Reid, in 2002 at the age of 12, started as a member of the Red Hotz. In 2007, he graduated from the Leader in Training Programme. In 2010, he became a recipient of the Danielle Dion Bursary, where he completed his Master's degree in Materials Science in September at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) in 2015. He continues to give back to Trails as an Alumni Mentor, helping other graduates find their wings.
Shivani Bhat, member of the Blazzing Hott Group began Trails in 2004 and graduated from Trails in 2008. Upon completion of high school in 2010, she currently conducted her master's thesis in nutrition at the University of Cambridge, and received the Research Experience Award from King's College London.
Trails graduates are offered paid summer internships working both for Trails, with the youth during the summer session, and for Scotiabank.
Trails alumni “give back” through one-to-one mentorship with Trails graduates. They provide support for Trails graduates during their Grade 11 and 12 years, increasing the likelihood that they will receive a high school diploma, and receive it “on time”, and gain entry to post-secondary education.
Trails is the recipient of funding for bursaries, which allow Trails graduates to attend post-secondary education.