Amadeusz

Amadeusz is committed to assisting young people who are incarcerated. Through education, it is our aim to promote and support positive change in the lives and communities of these young people.

Amadeusz - The Look At My Life ProjectOur Impact Why We Exist

Amadeusz, guiding principles and techniques for facilitating alternative education programs for youth in Toronto, was used to launch the Look At My Life Project in 2009. The Look At My Life Project is dedicated to social justice with an objective to enhance and advance the futures of incarcerated young people by influencing public policy and sharing our best practices with stakeholders and government alike.

Our objectives are to provide opportunities for young people remanded to custody and increase educational achievement levels so they are better prepared to create positive change within their own lives. Time spent in remand is increasing, with some young people being held for months, and sometimes even years awaiting a trial, which can significantly impact their educational pathway and attainement. The Look At My Life Project serves individuals from various communities across the City of Toronto and has developed partnerships with two detention centres in Toronto and the Vanier Centre For Women in Milton.

Additionally, The Look At My Life Project is contributing to knowledge in the field. In 2014, in partnership with Ryerson University, the Project published a study called "Look at my Life: Access to Education for the Remand Population in Ontario". This piece of research looked at how the lack of education for the remand population is, in fact, a violation of their human right. Arguments are made to support and fight for this right.

Currently, The Look At My Life Project is completing 3 other research projects focused on examining the the various barriers incarcerated young people face in Ontario.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

Amadeusz began by facilitating life skills workshops to young people using culturally responsive practices.  After identifying a significant gap in programs available to the remand population (individuals not convicted who are incarcerated awaiting a further court appearance: bail, trial or sentencing), Amadeusz launched The Look at my Life Project in 2009, creating a partnership with The Toronto West Detention Centre to begin facilitating education programs for young people remanded to custody.  In 2011 the project was expanded to The Toronto East Detention Centre and The Toronto Jail and in 2012 the project expanded to The Vanier Centre for Women.

Accolades and Accomplishments

Since June 2009, Amadeusz has achieved significant accomplishments and milestones in The Look at my Life Project.

  • The Look at my Life Project is the only project currently providing secondary and post-secondary programs to Toronto’s remand population

  • Published “Look at My Life: Access to Education for the Remand Population in Ontario” (Woods, Gopal, George, 2015) in Critical Review of Social Policy, Vol. 70

  • Recipient of the inaugural Laidlaw Foundation “Changing the Education System” 3 year grant

  • Recipient of the inaugural Trillium Foundation “Youth Opportunities Fund” 3 year grant

  • Recipient of the Toronto Community Foundation's Vital Ideas Award in 2012

  • Recipient of The Urban Leadership Award in Safety and Resilience from The Canadian Urban Institute 2012

  • Recipient of The City of Toronto's Identify and Impact Investment Fund Youth Worker of the Year Award 2009

  • Nominated for the Etobicoke Urban Hero Awards 2009

  • Amadeusz produced 3 reports documenting the successes, challenges and best practices to working in a maximum security detention centres: 'Implementing an Alternative Education Program for Incarcerated Young People',  'Implementing the Most Significant Change Technique in an Alternative Education Program for Incarcerated Young People' and 'Alternative Education for Marginalized Young People in Toronto'

Our Programs How We Do It

Look At My Life

Amadeusz’s “The Look at My Life Project” provides the opportunity for young people remanded to custody with the opportunity and resources to obtain their high school education through GED or credit recovery courses and attend post secondary schooling.  Since young people can spend more than 2 years on remand, Amadeusz identified an innovative and imperative opportunity to provide young people with meaningful opportunities to create positive change within their own lives and communities. 

The Look At My Life Project’s main objectives are:

  1. to increase literacy skills and education levels for young people on remand

  2. to provide opportunities and activities for young people on remand to build life skills, develop self-esteem and develop healthy decision making frameworks for safe/healthy choices

  3. to identify, recruit and develop key stakeholders to support young people during the Amadeusz program and post-release from prison   

  4. to document Amadeusz’s  impact on participants and the community through innovative techniques and tools 

  5. to contribute knowledge by engaging in research about our target population.

 

Accolades and Accomplishments

Since June 2009, Amadeusz has achieved significant accomplishments and milestones in The Look at my Life Project.

  • The Look at my Life Project is the only project currently providing secondary and post-secondary programs to Toronto’s remand population

  • Published “Look at My Life: Access to Education for the Remand Population in Ontario” (Woods, Gopal, George, 2015) in Critical Review of Social Policy, Vol. 70

  • Recipient of the inaugural Laidlaw Foundation “Changing the Education System” 3 year grant

  • Recipient of the inaugural Trillium Foundation “Youth Opportunities Fund” 3 year grant

  • Recipient of the Toronto Community Foundation's Vital Ideas Award in 2012

  • Recipient of The Urban Leadership Award in Safety and Resilience from The Canadian Urban Institute 2012

  • Recipient of The City of Toronto's Identify and Impact Investment Fund Youth Worker of the Year Award 2009

  • Nominated for the Etobicoke Urban Hero Awards 2009

  • Amadeusz produced 3 reports documenting the successes, challenges and best practices to working in a maximum security detention centres: 'Implementing an Alternative Education Program for Incarcerated Young People',  'Implementing the Most Significant Change Technique in an Alternative Education Program for Incarcerated Young People' and 'Alternative Education for Marginalized Young People in Toronto'

Funding and Program Partners

The Laidlaw Foundation has supported ‘The Look at My Life Project’ since the very beginning of the project in 2009.  The City of Toronto’s Identify N’ Impact Investment Fund and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Service’s Safer and Vital Communities grant began supporting this project in 2010.  ArtReach Toronto provided a grant to capture participants’ perceptions and impact of the project using arts-based evaluation tools.

The Look at My Life Project was also awarded two-three year grants to continue to expand educational services for remanded young people and conduct research and evaluation on the project: 1. Youth Opportunities Fund from Trillium and 2. Changing the Education System from Laidlaw Foundation. This program is delivered in partnership with The Toronto South Detention Centre, The Toronto East Detention Centre and Vanier Centre for Women, each providing in kind support through space and staff (correctional officers for security and safety purposes.)

Program Impact

Since 2009, ‘The Look at My Life Project’ has had 91 people graduate high school while on remand and 88 of these young people have completed 151 post-secondary courses while still on remand, increasing educational attainment and leadership skills among young people residing in detention in Toronto. 

Ongoing evaluations have shown ‘The Look at My Life Project’ is highly effective in increasing educational attainment levels among remanded young people.  This project has opened the door for individuals who experience barriers to re-engaging with formal education and has enabled them to begin a positive transformation in their lives: “With the help and support I received from you, I feel I have a second chance at bettering my future when I get released”, “This program has opened doors for me I thought were closed long ago”.  More than 500 additional individuals including other inmates, correctional officers, family, and friends have been impacted by the project through community events, dissemination and outreach within the detention centres. Our participants have reported a sense of pride in their accomplishments and participation in education programs and how their new focus on education has allowed them to be positive role models to their siblings and friends. 

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"By 2031, nearly 3.2 million adults in the Toronto Region may not have the English  literacy skills they need to thrive in the 21st-century workplace.  That’s a small decline in the proportion of the population with low literacy (from 50% in 2001 to 48%), but alarge jump in total numbers." (Toronto's Vital Signs, 2011)

Amadeusz works to increase literacy skills and subsequently high school completion rates for the individuals who have disenaged from formal learning.  Increasing literacy skills and education will provide our clients with an increased chance of success in obtaining gainful and meaningful employment and thriving in the 21stcentury workplace.

Participant Vignette

“The program has impacted and motivated me to do something positive”. An Amadeusz participant has been with us for 9 months and after recently passing his General Educational Development Test and being accepted to post-secondary school, shared with a staff member the impact Amadeusz had on him.  Reflecting on his life, he wishes he had made better choices.  In middle school he was friends with everyone, but in high school he became closer with the 'cool' kids.  He is the oldest of three in a single-mother family, growing up very poor.  He never wanted to stress his mother, so at the age of 13, he began selling drugs to make money.  At school, there were no teachers whom he connected with and he wishes someone had made him stay in school. By obtaining his GED, he stated doors have been opened for him that he thought had been closed forever and Amadeusz has allowed him to become a positive role model to his fellow inmates and more importantly, to his younger siblings.  It has given himself and his family something to be proud of. 

What You Can Do

Activities a donation will support

For every $1200 invested in this program, one young person will graduate high school while being held in remand.  

Donation impact

With additional financial assistance, we would be able to purchase more GED books, novels and other needed supplies to support more young people in graduating high school.

Contact

Wiyanna Trevis
647.701.8900
Charitable Number: 131502916RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 156,500