One out of every 25 children in Canada are at risk and need our help. Many have suffered in poverty and are victims of abuse or neglect. As a result, 300,000 of these children and youth have a social worker, while a staggering 76,000 are Crown wards who live in foster care or residential programs.
For these vulnerable children and youth, there are often significant gaps in funding that prevent them from enrolling in hockey, taking dance or learning to play a musical instrument. However, these very experiences can be the catalyst to restoring self-esteem, developing interpersonal and coping skills and finding the inner strength to build successful lives.
Inspired by their adopted daughter, Mark Daniels and Andrea Weissman-Daniels founded the IGNITE THE SPARK FUND – a unique initiative to fund “enrichment” programs. Spark is unlike any other fund because it helps children who have no access to, or can’t afford to have new experiences in sports, arts and recreation.
The Fund is also unique because it allows children to enrol in any program of their choice within their own communities and provides a commitment over multiple years. It also covers the costs of related clothing and equipment and gives them a level playing field with their peers. The IGNITE THE SPARK FUND not only supports children and youth involved with child welfare organizations in Toronto, (such as: Jewish Family and Child; Native Child and Family Services of Toronto; and Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto) it also supports children under the watch of child welfare services across Canada.
In 2011 and 2012, the Children’s Aid Foundation held SPARK Galas which raised funds to benefit the IGNITE THE SPARK FUND. Specially chosen celebrities, leaders in their field for their achievements, were honoured as Luminaries. Each one crediting someone who ignited their spark. At Children’s Aid Foundation, we hope for all children to have the same opportunitiy to IGNITE THEIR SPARK. See some of our luminaries and celebrity supporters below.
Tré embodies the true definition of what happens when a spark is ignited in a young person. Although having lived as a child in a home full of a mother’s love, the physically aggressive behaviour of her father created an environment of anxiety and dysfunction. Despite this destructive influence on Tré, her innate love for dance and music revealed itself and was noticed by her mother. The simple act of being put into dance classes ignited what has turned out to be a powerful life force for Tré, propelling her into not only a career she loves, but fueling a fire within her to help other challenged young people find their own inner creative spark.