The Ve’ahavta Street Academy
The Ve’ahavta Street Academy (VSA) is an eight week program (now in partnership with George Brown College) is for people that live on or near the streets of Toronto. This includes persons living on the street or in the shelter system, newly housed, or on income assistance. This program is for everyone who thought they would like to go back to school, but didn’t think it was possible. The Street Academy is designed to motivate and empower individuals to explore education as a way out of poverty or off the street. We believe that post secondary education in a city such as Toronto opens the door for the future.
VSA offers communication skills, life skills, diversity training, conflict resolution, self awareness, leadership workshop, career exploration, volunteerism, as well as actual Academic Lectures. The purpose of the Program is to bridge students to other programs and show them the way to Post-Secondary Education.
The objectives of the VSA are to:
- Introduce education as a path to a new life and provide options for students to further their education.
- Help participants discover their gifts and talents and how to develop them.
- Explore the barriers of low-income people obtaining education and how to overcome them.
- Give participants the tools to move into formal education settings.
- Build the self-esteem and confidence of students.
- Bridging the gap between making change and obtaining education.
- Navigate students to next step programs at George Brown College.
We at Ve’ahavta have been working with the Homeless Population for many years now, through our Homeless Initiatives Department. The common feedback we get from drivers, and volunteers is that they got to meet some of the smartest and most articulate individuals living on the street. We decided after seeing individuals like our Program Coordinator overcome obstacles that we should do our part to help. There are many other Theresa’s in the world, we want to help them reach their full potential. Hence the birth of Ve’ahavta Street Academy. Last summer Ve’ahavta Street Academy was Launched as a Pilot Project under the Direction of Founder Theresa Schrader. Our inaugural Academy was held at George Brown College – St. James Campus.
VSA is proudly co-chaired by Ron Maclean, of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, Paul Lindzon, Ve’ahavta Past President and Board Member, and Karen Ehrlich, Ve’ahavta Board Member.
About the program coordinator
Theresa Schrader, winner of the Creative Writing Contest in 2005, is currently in the Social Service Worker Program at George Brown College, where she is on the Dean’s List for three semesters consecutively. She believes VSA is an 8 week program full of all the things that helped her get where she is today. Her vision of this program is to engage students in education, and to explore the possibilities of continuing their education as well as viewing education as a way off the streets and out of poverty into a more stable life.
In 2005 when Theresa won the Creative Writing Contest for the Homeless, she was homeless, living on the street and addicted to crack cocaine. This was her life for a decade at the point of winning the contest. After winning the contest Theresa claims to have seen a glimmer of hope. She gathered support and worked her way through years of pain to be where she is today. She is graduating in April 2011, and is passionate about showing other that if she could do it, so could they.
Theresa was nominated by George Brown College for the Upper Level Garfield Weston Award, only one of three nominations from George Brown. She was also George Brown’s sole nomination for the Joan Homer Student Leadership Award. Theresa joins us after years of lived experience and now with top honors in her Social Service Worker Diploma.
- Theresa Schrader
VSA Graduating Class of 2011