United Way Peel helps bridge the rich-poor divide
By Radhika Panjwani
PEEL — The Sheridan neighbourhood in southwest Mississauga is home to subsidized and low-income apartment buildings situated across the street from high-income homes and sub-divisions.
The two worlds rarely interact, except for the children who attend school together. At school there was a not-so-invisible barrier that separated the two because children from the affluent families would talk about various sports leagues they followed and games they played while those from families experiencing poverty did not have access to a community centre.
Then, United Way of Peel Region (UW-Peel) invested in the Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services (PICS). Through the agency’s family program, children from five subsidized apartment buildings in the area could participate in a weekly one-hour martial arts class. The program was designed for 60 children to participate. On the first day of registration over 100 lined up at the front doors.
While the children are busy engaged in fitness and artistic activities their parents now attend an eight-week workshop on entrepreneurship.
“The United Way funding has allowed participants who can either not afford to go to regular training programs, or don’t have time to attend session to fully participate and reap the benefits of being prepared,” said Marwan Ismail, executive director of PICS. “Participants also appreciate that their children are taken care of while they are in the program. Kids are engaged in artistic projects and fitness activities and get a chance to socialize more with their neighbours in a safe and friendly environment.”
The impact of these programs in the community has been immense, with several participants finding jobs, said Ismail.
“All participants have appreciated a chance to come out and learn about business, English skills and confidence building through presentation activities,” he said. “The funding has allowed participants that cannot afford to go to regular training programs, or don’t have time to attend session to fully participate and reap the benefits of being prepared.”
This is why every dollar raised by UW- Peel counts because one of organization’s strategic goals is poverty reduction. This year, the agency has made it easier for people to donate money. Visit fuellocal.com/UnitedWayPeel and choose a gift and make a donation. Once you purchase the gift, you will have the option to share your donation through social media. Tax receipts are immediately available.
Donations are accepted past Christmas.