Welcome, Denise De Campos, PCYI’s new Community Planner!

Denise DeCampos October 2015 2I’m happy to announce that Denise De Campos will be joining the PCYI team in the role of Community Planner, effective October 13, 2015. Please join us in welcoming her to our community!Denise comes to us with a superb skill set that we feel is a perfect match for our organization and this role in particular.  She brings eight years’ experience in community health planning, including supporting the work of community planning tables, and ten years’ experience leading and managing community, regional and provincial-level projects and programs. Prior to joining PCYI, Denise has represented the Region of Peel Public Health Unit, Heart & Stroke Foundation and Canadian Diabetes Association at 40+ community planning tables. She has worked on campaigns that contributed to policy change, government funding commitments and new programs, including a multi-year funding commitment from the provincial government for diabetes; the passing of Making Healthier Choices Act 2015, restricting youth access to flavoured tobacco and e-cigarettes; and the establishment of Peel Region’s first-ever regional Public Access Defibrillator Program.

Denise is a Caledon-resident and an active community member, who has been a Crisis Line Counsellor at the Sexual Assault Rape Crisis Centre of Peel and an In-School Mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work from York University and a Community Outreach and Development Diploma from Sheridan College. She looks forward to working with our partners in the Region of Peel in her new role as Community Planner. Denise can be reached starting Tuesday, October 13th at [email protected] or 289-628-1646 ext. 413.
Graham Clyne, Executive Director
Peel Children and Youth Initiative


Comings & Goings at PCYI: Welcome Monica Valencia & Good Luck Cris Renna

monica-valencia-2015Fall is a time for new beginnings, and with that in mind, PCYI has two staff announcements to share.

We’re excited to announce that Monica Valencia has joined PCYI in the role of Success By 6 Manager, so please join us in giving Monica a warm, PCYI welcome. You can follow her on Twitter @MValencia_SB6

Monica’s work with children aged 0-6 is vast and varied, and we are looking forward to seeing her apply this incredible skill set at PCYI. She has on-the-ground experience working as a teacher and researcher, during which time she conducted a study with newcomer children in Peel to learn about their settlement experiences by giving them an opportunity to share their stories. This study was featured in The Toronto Star and was published in a book called Imaginative Inquiry: Innovative Approaches to Interdisciplinary Research. She has also worked as a consultant for CMAS, a non-profit organization that monitors and supports child care programs for children of newcomer parents. In previous roles she acted as a Knowledge Exchange Officer at the Centre of Excellence For Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS) at York University, and as Project Lead for the Regional Diversity Roundtable

Monica developed her strong project management and stakeholder engagement skills by leading and facilitating Peel’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter initiative, where she engaged stakeholders by organizing focus groups and community consultations in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga.

Monica is trilingual, holds a BA in Journalism, a Master’s Degree in Immigration and Settlement Studies, and most importantly, is passionate about the well-being of children in Peel. She looks forward to working with our partners in the Region of Peel in her new role as Success By 6 Manager.

And for our second announcement, PCYI would like to bid a fond farewell to Cris Renna, Community Planner. Cris will be moving on to work with the City of Toronto as a Policy Development Officer. She will be missed here at PCYI, and we wish her the best of luck in her new role! Stay tuned for our announcement of PCYI’s new Community Planner in the coming weeks.

PCYI Executive Director Graham Clyne Talks: Introducing Self-Reg to Schools & Communities – What Are We Learning?

PCYI’s Executive Director Graham Clyne recently did a short video for Peersite, to outline four points from his keynote presentation at last month’s Self-Regulation Summer Symposium: expertise, fidelity, best practice and being receptive to critics of self-reg.

If you’re not yet familiar with the concept of self-regulation, self-regulation refers to the ability to monitor and control our own behaviour, emotions or thoughts, altering them in accordance with the demands of the situation.

Take a minute to take a closer look at self-regulation here.



PCYI is pleased to welcome Theresa Micallef to the role of Communications Manager on a one-year contract. Our current Communications Manager, Krista Murray, has headed off on maternity leave. Please join us in wishing Krista well on her new adventure!

tmicallefTheresa is a creative marketing & communications strategist with over ten years’ experience delivering ROI-driven campaigns.

With a diverse consulting background in both Canadian and U.S. Public Relations environments, Theresa brings a unique understanding of various industries and a collaborative business development approach in helping shape future successes. Her latest role, as Director of tenfour Communications, she led her team to develop strategies for a range of clients in areas including non-profit, consumer, corporate, retail and entertainment sectors. Clients have included Amnesty International, The MuchMusic Video Awards (MMVAs), Girls Who Believe Fest and The 411 Initiative For Change.

Prior to tenfour, Theresa led a team at The MuseBox in New York City, and worked as a media relations consultant at Fontana North where she assisted in developing marketing & communications plans for a variety of brands.

Committed to lifelong learning, growth and improvement, with a strong desire to affect positive social change, Theresa’s areas of focus include children and youth, community, arts & culture and mental health. Theresa attended York University and holds an Honours Public Relations Diploma from Humber College.

Theresa looks forward to working with our partners over the next year. Please join us in welcoming her!

Taking action against bullying: a Peel teen shares her story

The following a guest post by youth kindness and anti-bullying advocate, Simrat Heer. 

My name is Simrat Heer, I am 17 years old, and I am a survivor of bullying and an anti-bullying activist. I was eleven when I was first told that I was not pretty enough to have friends at school. At this time, I was living in England, the country I was born in. I suffered for years with the side effects of bullying. I was constantly reminded by myself as well as others, including my friends, that I was not good enough. Whenever people would say unkind comments to me, it chipped at my confidence until it wasn’t present. I began to see myself as the names I was known for. Having friends never came easy to me since.

Simrat with Molly Thompson and Lauren Paul, Kind Campaign co-founders
Simrat with Molly Thompson and Lauren Paul, Kind Campaign co-founders

I moved to Canada in 2011. In 2014, I won a competition to get a girl-against-girl anti- bullying campaign to come to my school, Kind Campaign. I had the opportunity to speak at this event and host this assembly in front of 500 female students. After this assembly, I had groups of girls telling me that this had impacted them immensely. It was that day that I decided that I wanted to make a difference to girls’, as well as boys’, lives. I was going to use my years of suffering positively. That is how I have spoken twice for Peel Children’s Centre and have three more events outstanding with them.

It is my hope that I can start up my own campaign for anti-bullying and speak with people all around the world to tell them there is hope. I could never see the end of the tunnel at the time, but now, if I could go back in time and tell my younger self one thing, it would be that high school was not going to be the end of my life. I thought it was at the time but I am typing this message, positively and with my head held high, hoping that victims of bullying and depression know that there is a future. I hope to continue on with speaking to people around the world, including Peel Children’s Centre, about my journey, how being kind is always the best option, and being the up-stander instead of the bystander.

‘For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with knowledge that you are never alone’ – Audrey Hepburn

Simrat Heer just completed grade 11 at Streetsville Secondary School in Mississauga. She is a local ambassador for Kind Campaign, a global initiative to end girl on girl bullying. Simrat has been speaking to her peers about personal her experience with bullying and the steps she has taken to overcome the effects of bullying to inspire others. Simrat is interested in speaking engagements and can be reached at [email protected]

A poem Simrat's first true friend sent her while she was overcoming her challenges with bullying
A poem Simrat’s first true friend sent her while she was overcoming her challenges with bullying

Bridging the Research to Practice Gap: Sharing Local Research between Community Agencies & Academia

The following is a guest post from Community Health Initiatives, Health Services, Region of Peel. It originally appeared in the Peel Think Share newsletter, Summer 2015 edition.

11150668_976079842432203_6157964550996542802_nOn April 17, 2015 over 100 representatives from Peel community based agencies, along with faculty and students from Sheridan College, came together to share brilliant local research in support of improving outcomes for children and youth. The research covered a wide range of topics and disciplines including health, justice, social services, education, the arts and early child development.

Finding innovative solutions to complex issues facing the child and youth sector today was one of the events key themes. It is only through collaboration, crossing sector boundaries, and sometimes “breaking the mould” that we can get to more innovative and sustainable solutions for some of the most complex issues facing our children and youth (e.g. employment, education, gender identity, the justice system, mental health and substance use, violence,physical activity and nutrition, etc.).

This event is just the beginning! As we move forward we’ll be able to foster relationships with the incredible post-secondary institutions we have in our region to support community-based organizations and find efficient and effective solutions to some of their complex programming,organizational and service delivery issues. What better way to engage post-secondary students, then through capstone research projects as part of the process of finding solutions while honing their craft!

The Region of Peel, Sheridan College and the Peel Child and Youth Initiative congratulate and thank all of the poster and panel presenters for sharing their research! We look forward to planning more initiatives to foster the relationships between community agencies and local academia and sparking innovative solutions to complex youth issues.


Out in the Community: Shelina reads to Peel kids

Shelina1As the Director of Success By 6 Peel, Shelina Jeshani’s work is dedicated to helping all children ages 0-6 in Peel to thrive. However, working behind the scenes on big systems, policies and practices means she isn’t immersed in a direct service setting day to day. Getting out in the community means getting creative.

“Meeting the children and the families that we work to support is vital,” says Shelina. “It is important that I hear directly from them and live their experiences. It’s the kind of work I’ve always done.”

Shelina’s latest connection with the community included a visit to Child Development Resource Connection Peel’s (CDRCP) Ontario Early Years Centre (OEYC) in Brampton on May 7 as the guest story circle leader.

Shelina2A group of smiling faces greeted Shelina with anticipation around the story circle. Shelina chose to read Robert Munsch’s 50 Below Zero, a favourite classic. The kids loved Shelina’s animated reading, complete with actions, sounds and audience participation!

“I love reading this book,” said Shelina. “I used to read it to my daughter Israa all the time, so it brings back fond memories. Promoting literacy from an early age has always been important in my family and it’s such a wonderful experience to extend this passion to the community. It was a pleasure to stop by our community’s early years centre to connect with the parents and their children who we work every day to support.”

Shelina3To find an Ontario Early Years Centre in your neighbourhood, visit http://www.oeyc.edu.gov.on.ca/.

Read more about Shelina in our Behind the Scenes Staff Series.

PCYI thanks its Youth Advisory Council for Volunteer Week (April 12-18, 2015)

pcyiPCYI’s Youth Advisory Council is unique group. Fifteen dedicated volunteers, ages 14-24, meet monthly to help represent the voices of their peers in Peel. They take the lead on consulting their peers, make recommendations to inform priorities and work for youth in our region, and run their own initiatives for youth based on what they think is important. Before PCYI does anything for youth, we come to the Council first.

Council members are passionate about making things better for young people in Peel and eager to contribute. Three members sit on the PCYI Board of Directors as full voting members. We are proud of our Youth Advisory Council and hope that members find their volunteer career with us meaningful and a way to build their skills.

For National Volunteer Week, and every week, we extend our sincere thanks to our Youth Advisory Council! We couldn’t do our work without you.

PCYI’s Youth Advisory Council

Volunteer spotlight: Children’s Charter of Rights ambassador, Naomi Ishmael, takes on new role with Youth Advisory Council

The Peel Children and Youth Initiative (PCYI) Youth Advisory Council marks National Volunteer Week by welcoming a new member. Naomi Ishmael, the Peel Children’s Charter of Rights ambassador, has joined the Council to continue improving opportunities for her peers in Peel.

Naomi Ishmael (far right) presenting the Peel Children’s Charter of Rights to RBC Royal Bank on National Child Day 2012 to recognize their commitment to the right to education.

Naomi, a Brampton native, began her volunteer work with the Peel Children and Youth Initiative in 2010 as the Peel Children’s Charter of Rights child ambassador. The Charter was established by Success By 6 Peel, an arm of PCYI, along with 4,000 children across the region. The charter’s 12 rights, in the words of children, are woven into the daily work of PCYI and its partners, guiding our visions, missions and outcomes. Naomi has played an instrumental role in raising awareness about the rights of children across the region.

Now 15, Naomi will be working alongside her peers on the PCYI Youth Advisory Council. This group supports and informs the development of PCYI’s research and strategic initiatives to ensure that the region-wide, system-level plans made for youth in Peel are actually driven and shaped by the opinions of youth.

“I’m glad that I’ve been blessed to have many opportunities to impact the quality of life for the children and youth in Peel,” says Naomi. “Everything that I have done so far is an eye-opener due to the fact that I realize what a privilege it is to live in a region where they value the rights and opinions of the children and youth.”

The Peel Children and Youth Initiative and its partners thank Naomi and the Youth Advisory Council members, for their significant contribution to improving the lives of children and youth in Peel. They have a unique passion for making things better for young people in Peel and we recognize their dedication and commitment.

Naomi Ishmael (far right) making a presentation on children’s rights in Peel to newborns and their parents at William Osler Hospital on National Child Day 2011.
Naomi Ishmael (far right) making a presentation on children’s rights in Peel to newborns and their parents at William Osler Hospital on National Child Day 2011.

It takes a village: A community approach to the Canada Learning Bond in Peel

If you’ve met anyone from PCYI, you have probably heard about our Enrolled By Six Peel Postsecondary Strategy. We are working to help every eligible child in Peel enrol in the Canada Learning Bond (CLB). The CLB is a free government grant for a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). In other words, the government is giving eligible children up to $2,000 each for their postsecondary education. The money is deposited when the child is young, so it grows interest over time. This hidden gem, which sounds too good to be true, is not well known by parents. Part of our work involves talking to parents about these free, no-catch funds. To do this, we have engaged hundreds of partners, who see parents every day, to help spread the word. During National Education Savings Week (Nov. 16-22, 2014), we visited parents and partners in our community to talk about the Canada Learning Bond. In this video blog, we document our journey and outline how a community of partners have been engaged to help get children enrolled. We also hear from parents who have enrolled their children in the bond about what they think of the free funds. Join us in this video experience to learn more!

The sentiments expressed in this video are anecdotal and for testimonial purposes only. For the most accurate information about the Canada Learning Bond and Canada Education Savings Grant, visit www.canlearn.ca