TD Impact Fund

December 19, 2021

Youth programming is vital to supporting the positive development and growth for youth.  There are many benefits that support the purpose for youth programming which can be divided in several categories. These programs can serve to address the physical, development, and social needs of youth as they build the necessary skills to become successful adults. Youth programs come in various forms such as community service programs, mentoring programs and neighborhood youth centers. In July 2021, the TD Bank group awarded Ifarada with a grant that supported the youth programming: Young Queens, Nia Gwenda, Askira Girls, and Adrinkahene.

The power of groups…

Youths belonging to racialized communities are at a much higher risk for social exclusion, maltreatment, and risk-taking behaviour because of systemic racism, oppressive structures, and historical/intergenerational trauma stemming from the colonization of what is known as North America. Furthermore, Black and racialized youths are at a higher risk to develop negative peer association, lower self-esteem or self-loathing, disassociation from their culture or lack of cultural identity, internalizing negative and racist discourse about their community, and being ostracized from typical institutions of socialization

Understanding the Impact

Ifarada’s programs are led through the support of the Executive Director, and volunteers. With added staff team members, who facilitated the programs, coordinated the volunteers, and developed the content, Ifarada was able to increase its impact throughout the funding period.

12 Volunteers

From September to December, 12 volunteers from undergrad and grad programs facilitated 5 groups.

317 Direct Support

Participants check in with facilitators once per week on an individual level. Parents are also provided tips and strategies on how to support their youth.

49 Group Hours

Groups take place online on a virtual platform. Groups are 2 hours in length on a weekly basis.

31 Youth

From September to December, 31 youth ages five to sixteen years old participated in the group programs.

Key Themes

In 2021, our world continued to experience a global pandemic. This experience was difficult for our participants, our volunteers, and our families. In response to these difficulties, our programs focused on responding to COVID-19 and building our youth to manage and enhance their functioning.


Askira means “warrior”. Through unique programming, Askira girls focused on self-esteem building, social skill development, and emotional regulation.

Our impact…

Our participant’s ages 5 to 9 years old shared their experiences with the virtual program. Our programs included a strong emphasis on culture and ethnic identity. In addition, our girls participated in engaging activities that enhanced their functioning.

“I learned about my culture, and other cultures around the world, how I am unique”

“I like drawing my own tree ‘all about me’ and the staring contest to show how eye contact brings us together”

“Me as a warrior would have her black hair in a bun, and a blue suit and my real-life superpower is running fast, and being kind”

“I learned about different emotions, and other girls in the group also feel sad sometimes”

“Everyone is nice,  I made friends in the group, and people listen to my story”

“My skin colour is brown and it is a good part of me”

COVID-19 Impacts on our family…

The girls shared about the challenges that have occurred in the past two years of their life, including feeling scared at times, lonely, and sometimes missing out on activities they had previously joined in with. The girls noted that the group was “fun” and a place to talk about their feelings. We supported the girls to learn about using their inner strengths, and safe people in their life to cope with difficulties that come up when going back to in-person learning. Facilitators came up with creative activities, to aid a fun atmosphere while learning about labeling, identifying, and coping with emotions; emotional regulation skills, and other topics such as helpful communication skills, and self-awareness. Breathing activities, such as candle breathing, were an engaging way to teach skills for emotional regulation and coping with big emotions. Children shared they would remember skills taught in the group in their school day. Parents noted it was a space where their child felt comfortable to join back each week, with accessibility due to Zoom access and facilitators’ helpful reminders of the sessions. Facilitators were aware of the technical issues that may arise as a barrier to participation and would call caregivers to assist if needed, or follow-up.

Youth identified how the pandemic impacted their lives.

  • Three participants of the group shared that they had had a difficult time feeling alone during the pandemic, and lockdowns.
  • Youth shared they had struggles adapting to the changes at school, such as not being able to eat with their friends, not sharing toys, getting up from their desk, or food, not speaking at lunch, and missing time to connect with friends.
  • Missing activities that brought joy, or their interests. Some youths shared about not being able to participate in activities like swimming, or band, missing the activities they used to do.
  • Through online activities, increased use of social media, which has impacted youths’ identity wellbeing, with sometimes experiencing bullying or viewing overt racism on social media platforms such as tiktok.
  • Fearfulness about Covid and feeling tired from the somatic experience of feeling scared.

The group supported these struggles by processing through talking and therapeutic art activities exploring the surrounding emotions, (for example sadness, loneliness, fear, anger, frustration), and facilitators building a safe place for belonging and social connection in our group. Finding strategies in the group to find opportunities to continue pursuing interests and activities in creative ways, exploring ways to support healthy friendship, discussing safety and supporting wellbeing in the virtual world, including social media personal boundaries, and moving away from internalizing harmful experiences on social media to support positive identity and self-esteem. Promoting use of coping strategies, such as mindfulness, self-awareness of somatic symptoms to cue participants to rest, breath, do something that makes them feel safe, and coping tools to support mental health.

Explore our other great programs

Upcoming Groups

Groups are held on a quarterly basis, with intakes occurring one month before the start date. Join any time to access our waitlist. Group dates: January-March, May to June, July-August, and October to December.

Register for youth programming

Registration for youth programming is open to participants and families at any time. Participants have access to a counsellor and family support.

Share your perspective? Have you attended one of our groups? Share your story with our team or complete our survey.

Review the reports

Program Evaluation Report

(September to December 2021)

Summary and Impact Statements

(September to December 2021)

With thanks to TD for the invaluable support.