Samuel Hearne Workshop 5, 2013 1

Founded in January 2012 by two University of Toronto Life Science undergraduates, Akanksha Ganguly and Applonia Cornolius, S.E.E.D.S. emerged as a student group striving to bridge the gap between life science education and healthy active living to Toronto youth through after-school and camp workshops.

Having both grown up in priority neighborhoods of Toronto, S.E.E.D.S. co-founders experienced a gap between health education and healthy lifestyle practices throughout elementary and high school. Their similar experiences combined, lead to the identification of this gap and enthused a passionate need to make a difference.

The success of S.E.E.D.S. first pilot program in May 2012 gave insight to the potential positive impact on Toronto’s at-risk youth and their respective communities. Today, S.E.E.D.S. is a recognized Canadian Non-Profit organization with Akanksha as Co-founder and CEO.

The S.E.E.D.S. team is divided into three sectors and comprised of University of Toronto students and graduates; the Core Executive Team, Core Executive Support Team and Chapter Team. Each team member’s contribution to S.E.E.D.S. is crucial to the organization’s overall success.

The seven members of the Core Executive Team are each responsible for developing goals, plans and strategies integral to S.E.E.D.S. in their respective domains; Administration, Program Outreach, Satellite Operations, Program Development, Public Relations and Finance. In addition, they are responsible for managing and ensuring successful execution of such plans and strategies from members of the Core Executive Support Team.

Co-presidents and student volunteers at each chapter location are collectively referred to as the Chapter Team. With lead from the Satellite Operations manager, the Chapter Team is responsible for ensuring workshop activity material is delivered to participants with quality and enthusiasm.

Currently operating in both the University of Toronto St. George and Scarborough campuses, the two chapters of S.E.E.D.S. are reaching more at-risk youth and communities than ever before.

The S.E.E.D.S. program generally runs 6-8 weeks long with workshops delivered weekly. Each workshop involves two activities, which target at least one of S.E.E.D.S. four main areas of focus: mental health, physical health, oral health and nutrition. Designed by the S.E.E.D.S. Program Development team, each activity incorporates a physically active component relating to the activity’s lesson plan taught with a scientific lens. In addition, fresh healthy snacks are provided to youth participants, internally referred to as SEEDlings.

In 2014, S.E.E.D.S. introduced, “Community Projects Proposals” into the program. In groups, SEEDlings identify a health related issue in their community and are given a few weeks to develop a solution proposal with guidance from S.E.E.D.S. volunteers. At the end of the program, SEEDlings present their proposals to their peers, community leaders, school officials and parents at S.E.E.D.S. Open House.

S.E.E.D.S. programming fosters mentorship and leadership by incorporating students of different backgrounds into a cohesive program.