It’s a universal truth that knowledge is power, a reality that former CFL-er, Michael “Pinball” Clemons, has taken to heart with a recent $500,000 donation to the newly-named Pinball Clemons Foundation Ambassador School Program. Supporting at-risk youth involved with the child welfare system, the program works to help youth struggling with various barriers achieve their high school education and even prepare for post-secondary education.
In a recent article written by Andrea Gordon and published by the Toronto Star (2016/12/05), Josh, a former youth in care and member of the Ambassador School Program, explained how the program has significantly impacted his life.
Joshua Roth had gone to 14 schools by the time he earned his high school diploma last June.
It wasn’t until the last one — a small alternative high school called the Ambassador school program for youth in child welfare— that Roth finally began to see himself as someone who could be a successful student with a future.
“I never actually believed it until I went to the Ambassador program,” says Roth, 23, who had a tumultuous childhood in Toronto, went into foster care at age 2 and says he was kicked out of school for the first time in Grade 2.
He arrived almost three years ago ready to give up on himself. Now he’s on his way to Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie, where he’ll study to become a fish and wildlife conservation technician.
“I’m getting ready for college, I’m preparing to move to a place I’ve never been,” says Roth. I’m actually excited and I see a path for myself.”
Thanks to former Toronto Argonauts legend Michael “Pinball” Clemons, other at-risk youth will also have a shot at this kind of turnaround.
The Ambassador program, in existence since 1991, depends solely on funding from private donors through the Children’s Aid Foundation. When Clemons learned its future was precarious, he stepped in with a donation of $500,000 from his charitable foundation, which he says is committed to helping transform disadvantaged youth “from surviving to thriving.”
For many of the kids supported through the Ambassador School Program, high school completion would simply be out of reach. With the incredible generosity of the Pinball Clemons Foundation, the program will be able to assist young people in strengthening their skills and building stable independence.