Taslim and Hanif Jamal – the owners of Toronto’s The Wholesome Market – just celebrated 20 years of working with Community Builders Youth Leadership. This not-for-profit organization was founded in 1994 by a committed group of educators with extensive experience in teaching, counselling, and working through the arts with children.
Community Builders’ mission and passion is to help create inclusive school communities by developing the leadership capacity of young people and adults. They train elementary students, teachers and parents in anti-bullying, social inclusion, equity and conflict resolution, while raising their awareness of racism, sexism, classism and other forms of oppression.
The Wholesome Market donates $2,000 annually to the group and is planning something big in May: a community event based at the store with the goal of raising awareness of the important issues Community Builders addresses, and $5,000 in donations to support this work. The funds will go toward the recruiting and training of volunteers, as well as additional staff. This will enable the organization to go into more school communities to teach students and raise awareness of the issues.
“What we are doing through the store is trying to get much more involved in the community,” explained Hanif, who recalls being bullied as a youngster when his family was new to Canada. “Community Builders helps kids understand racism, homophobia, classism, ableism and the many other ways that people get hurt. They’re teaching the kids the right words and the most effective approach to dealing with tough situations. This type of community program is something I encourage all business owners to consider supporting.”
Community Builders’ co-founder Jerry Brodey says stepping in to help someone who is being bullied, excluded or targeted by oppression isn't easy for anyone – children or adults. “We’re giving them the skills and tools to be pro-active. Young people believe they can make a difference, and we need to support them to do that. These are skills that will help them to have healthy relationships now when they’re young, and as they go through the rest of their lives. Community Builders is definitely an antidote for hopelessness.”
The Wholesome Market has had support from some of its suppliers, including Mike and Mike’s, Indigo, Purity Life, Sunflower Kitchen, Gordian Health First and Little Stream Bakery. Hanif is hoping more suppliers as well as his customers will join the effort. “This is about helping kids deal with bullying and show caring to others,” says Hanif. “The more people who stand up to bullying and exclusion, the less power it has.”
For more information, visit cbyouthleadership.org or contact Hanif at 647/500-3474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.