Three years of Support for Sparking Change Has Helped Transform Toronto Green Spaces and Communities
February 24, 2021
With a three-year, $457,200 Grow grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) that was awarded in 2017, Park People’s Sparking Change program has helped bring training, networks, seed funding and one-on-one coaching to community leaders to help them make their parks more vibrant and their neighbourhoods stronger.
“With this kind of long-term support, we’ve really been able to have a deep impact on communities and provide the training needed to help create a new generation of community leaders,” said Minaz Asani-Kanji, Park People’s Manager of Outreach who underscored the importance of OTF’s long term commitment to underserved communities.
Photo credit: Edith George. A planting tree activity in Rowntree Mills Park, in 2019
With support from OTF, Sparking Change supported 31 groups in 27 Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIA) across Toronto. Park People provided direct support to community groups to help them play a direct role in turning their parks into powerful engines of community development by building the capacity of park group leaders.
“I want to change the reputation and face of my community,” said Constance Boakye, a Sparking Change program participant from Friends of Fountainhead Park in North York. “I want people to know that it’s full of families and hard-working people. I want to show people in various social settings that the park is where people from various backgrounds, ages, et cetera, can congregate and have fun.”
Photo credit: Anne Ng, Black Creek, Toronto, 2019
“By animating our local parks, residents like Contance play an integral role in making our parks more vibrant and their neighbourhoods stronger,” said Tom Rakocevic, MPP for Humber River—Black Creek who recognized the impact that Constance, and Sparking Change, has had in his community.
The Sparking Change program has supported the creation of new community park groups that have led activities in parks and green spaces from tree planting in Toronto Community Housing properties to climate change workshops and park cleanups.
Feedback about the program underscores the value Sparking Change has brought to communities across Toronto:
- 95 percent of park leaders said they gained new skills and knowledge through Sparking Change.
- 76 percent of park leaders felt more connected to local non-profit and community organizations.
- 76 percent of park leaders feel more capable of influencing decisions made about their community parks.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded $115 million to 644 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.