Sydney John-Baptiste has been a member of Toronto Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club since she was nine years old and has loved the Club experience since her very first day. From cooking classes to dance programs, arts and crafts to public speaking, there is never a shortage of things to do at the Club. And Sydney is quick to give credit to the staff for helping her discover her interests and opening her eyes to opportunities she might have missed.
“It’s like a second family,” says Sydney. “There is so much support, and everything is designed to help kids grow their confidence.”
Sydney now works at the Toronto Kiwanis Club as after-school program staff, while finishing up her final year of high school before she heads to Trent University to pursue medical school.
The RBC Raise the Grade program helped her find her path. She was part of the program for three or four years, and what started out as homework help soon turned into essential skill-building: career exploration, job readiness, and applying for post-secondary education.
But what she remembers the most was having a great RBC Raise the Grade mentor. He really encouraged her to think outside the box, to look at real-world issues and their local community and figure out ways to get involved and give back.
“It was so important to have an adult mentor who listened and engaged with our ideas,” says Sydney. “Our discussions about community issues, about tolerance and discrimination, broadened my horizons and sparked a passion for social justice.”
The program gave her knowledge and experience that was outside her school curriculum, and it inspired her to dream big.
“Raise the Grade helped me open doors to education and a future career. The medical profession lacks diverse representation, and as a woman of colour, I want to be a role model for young people.”