Breaking The Cycle of Poverty: How Fred Victor is Helping Children and Families Living in Poverty
While Toronto consistently ranks high on international best-of lists, from world-class cultural scenes to booming tech hubs and high livability standards, many of the city’s residents are still struggling to make ends meet. More than 125,000 (26.3%) children live in low-income families – a staggering statistic that highlights the inequality and lack of opportunity that still exists in Ontario’s largest metropolis.
The sad truth is that poverty levels in Toronto are trending upward. In the past year, the inflation rate increased by an all-time high of 7% in Canada, causing a significant increase in living costs, such as housing, food, and energy just to name a few. Unemployment and inadequate access to necessities further add to these issues and trap families in a cycle of poverty that is difficult to escape from.
How does poverty affect children?
Poverty can have a devastating impact on children’s lives, affecting their physical, emotional, and mental health. Poor nutrition from an inability to provide healthy meals can cause lower educational outcomes, higher levels of stress, and greater risk for physical illness or injury. It can also lead to social exclusion, as children in poverty may have fewer opportunities to participate in activities with peers due to economic constraints. Moreover, these children may suffer emotionally from feeling neglected or rejected because they do not have the same resources as their wealthier classmates.
What can be done?
To reduce poverty in Canada, it is crucial that each level of government make meaningful investments in individuals, communities, and programs starting with affordable and sustainable housing, employment and income security, improved access to education and childcare, as well as food security.
How do we support children and families living in poverty?
While Fred Victor offers affordable housing to families living in poverty, we also provide a specific program that provides a positive, safe, and nurturing environment for children and youth living in our housing sites.
Steps to Success is an after-school program that is designed specifically for young people affected by poverty, homelessness, trauma, violence, and instability. The program addresses their unique needs, builds resilience, improves their emotional development and well-being, and supports their success at school and in life.
At Steps to Success children and youth are improving their wellness and resiliency through
- Physical activity, outdoor play, healthy eating, food skills
- Supportive social environment, sense of community, belonging, and stability
- Emotional learning and growth, life skills, and opportunities for mentorship and leadership
- Homework help, English language literacy, and reading support, encouraging school success and confidence
- Engagement of parents, children, youth, and families in creating a community together
Since 2016, hundreds of children have found a safe place to play, learn, grow, and explore, while building skills, confidence, and ambition. For youth, there are additional one on one supports in resume building, job readiness and search, and mentorship and leadership opportunities. In the summer months, Steps to Success continues as a summer camp program, with an emphasis on getting kids outside and active and exploring the city through trips to parks and attractions in the GTA like High Park, TreeTop Trekking, and Toronto Island.
Maurice’s Transformation Story
In the beginning, Maurice was very timid and kept to himself, and when he wasn’t he was always in defense mode. In the beginning, he was pretty apprehensive and skeptical about the new routine and expectations within the program, minor things would get him upset and agitate him which would lead to him leaving the program or it would result in destructive behaviour. This behaviour would lead to conflicts with his peers and it would roll over into his home life as well.
Developing strategies like breathing techniques and setting boundaries with him and his peers have changed his outlook on the program completely. Maurice has made a complete turnaround, he’s developed new skills like cooking, art, and endurance sports. He is often the one to volunteer to help tidy up and prep for the program, he’s always the first one there and we call him the early bird. Maurice now shares his success with others and has made the basketball team at his school. He has stuck up for others and is like an advocate within the program and he shines in a different light.
Steps To Success is funded in part by Ontario Trillium Foundation, Kinross Gold Corporation, Jon and Nancy Love Foundation, Aston Family Foundation, Fairlawn Avenue United Church, United Church of Canada – Embracing the Spirit, Tippet Foundation, CIBC, and TD Bank Group.
What can you do to help children and families living in poverty?
One of the best ways to help children and families living in poverty is by donating to charities. Many families living in poverty are unable to access basic necessities. When you donate directly to organizations such as food banks, shelters, or your local community organizations, you help in a meaningful way to those who need it most.
If you would like to support children and families living in our affordable housing, please make a donation today.