The Nook Mission & History
The Nook Children’s Program was initiated in 1996 specifically for The Christie Ossington Community by C.O.N.C. staff in collaboration with residents, parents, teachers, local artists and community service workers. Since its beginnings The Nook has grown significantly to become one of the most exceptional, diverse, inclusive, and social-justice-focused FREE Children's and Families Programs. Though The Nook is open to all community members the effectiveness of our programming comes from our dedication to maintain a child-focused response to significant community needs related to education, literacy, settlement, health, social isolation, poverty and employment for children 6-12 years old and their families.
The Nook is a Free After School, Summer, Suspension Help and Special Events Drop-In Program for children 6-12 years old. Nook children come from all walks of life however we prioritize local low-income families who are often also new to Canada, learning English, sole-support parents, members of a marginalized group or experiencing crisis. Many of the Nook’s participants are experiencing, or vulnerable to experiencing, social, behavioral and academic difficulties that require special attention outside of school hours. The Nook provides one-on-one and group programming aimed at increasing children’s confidence, creativity and skill, particularly with regards to literacy, recreation and the arts. The Nook is a supportive resource for low-income families, working to bridge the gaps between home, school and community, especially for new Canadian families. Each year, 1,300 children enjoy Nook programming and over 65 individuals, over half of whom are youth, participate as volunteers. The Nook also engages between 10 and 15 local artists and co-op students from relevant faculties in program planning and delivery each year.
The Nook aims to empower local at-risk children with the knowledge to participate in and advocate for positive community contributions. Our weekly programming themes over the past year encouraged discussion about Canadian elections, diverse beliefs, poverty, stress management, addictions, healthy eating, environmental degradation, sexual health and other topics about which our local school-age children most commonly ask questions. The Nook continues to foster an innovative environment where children develop healthy relationships with each other, with youth and with adults. We have seen again and again that the most valuable, sustainable gift anyone can give at-risk children is the confidence to speak truthfully, to trust appropriately and to participate whole-heartedly in all of life’s offerings.
One of our huge supporters is the City of Toronto Parks and Recreation Division and the Bob Abate Community Centre with their generous support in helping us staff, and providing space, and from other funders and community supporters, The Nook regularly offers the following activities;
- Free after school and summer programs, including a Walking School Bus from five local TDSB and TCDSB schools
- A Suspension Help Program that provides an educational alternative to out of school suspensions
- One-on-one tutoring and creative literacy programming
- Nutritious food and innovative health education
- Life-skills programs (Cooking Club, Conflict Management, Peer Volunteering)
- Dynamic and diverse Arts and Recreational programming (visual arts, drama, music, dance, co-operative games, tournaments, team-building activities)
- Special Events including an Annual Film Festival, Art Exhibits, Nook Idol and creative performance opportunities including an annual Musical Theatre Production
- Opportunities to participate in community events and learn from local artists
- Venues for positive communication and collaboration between diverse ethnic and cultural communities
- Innovative environmental education including community gardening
- Early intervention with regards to violence prevention and gang involvement
- Volunteer opportunities for youth, seniors, students and others
The Nook operates from September to June out of The Alex Duff Recreation Centre, in a unique partnership with The City of Toronto, Parks, Forestry & Recreation. The Nook Summer Program operates out of Christie Pits Park, and regularly makes use of surrounding community spaces.
We work diligently to…
Engage children ages 6-12 in innovative arts/literacy/sports activities
Provide inclusive, non-discriminatory programs
Increase children’s confidence
Validate children’s realities
Expose children to realities which are not their own
Broaden children’s skills and interests
Engage staff skills and interests
Work diligently against stereotypes
Connect local artists to the program
Connect youth to the program
Connect seniors to the program
Increase community awareness of the NOOK
Connect and Collaborate with other community groups and organizations
Increase children’s awareness of human rights
Increase children’s awareness of community/environmental responsibility
Increase children’s awareness of current events
The NOOK is a secular program. We seek to provide a space that is comfortable for children and families from all realities. We seek to provide information, to provide exposure and to provide options which promote children’s development, health and well-being. We are here to provide children with as many tools as possible with which to form their own opinions and make their own decisions as they grow up.