Making A Difference: YMCA Academy – Toronto

Located with the Central YMCA, in downtown Toronto, you’ll discover a unique and innovative learning environment.

“The YMCA Academy is a high school for students that learn differently,” said Don Adams, head of school at the YMCA Academy.

The Academy is a high school of 42 students and seven teachers, which allows for smaller class sizes, and more one-on-one time between students and teachers.

Inspired and supported by the YMCA, the school integrates the Ontario Ministry of Education’s secondary school curriculum with practical life skills.

At the Academy, each student is given an individualized education plan.

“Every one of our students we look at in detail,” said Adams. “We look at how they learn best, what their learning weaknesses are, and we design a program to support their weaknesses and to enhance their strengths.”

Clayton Dimech, a grade 11 student at the YMCA Academy, has experienced learning at a traditional high school compared to an alternative.

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“At my old school, it wasn’t good for me,” said Dimech. “I wasn’t being treated fairly. I was bullied; it wasn’t helpful towards my ADHD. My marks started dropping. I starting losing friends and it just became very stressful on me. And then I heard about this school and I gave it a try, and it was a such a great change. The Academy has opened so many doors for me.”

The Academy also includes the YMCA values of respect, responsibility, inclusiveness, caring, health and honesty.

“I think every single one of these kind of goes back to what we are trying to achieve having the Academy in here,” said Mehdi Zobeiry, vice-president of the Central YMCA.

In 2013, the YMCA Academy will be celebrating its 10th year of operation.

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