By: Gabby Beckford
Five thousand, two hundred and eighty. That’s the amount of Black individuals who live in Milton, out of one hundred and thirty-two thousand total. It’s no surprise that socializing is tough, especially when you’re one of two or three black kids in class or worst case scenario – the only black kid in your class. I know the feeling, and I’m over the moon to share with you a space that MD has carved out just for us: the Black Excellence Club or Halton Black Grad Coaches for Black Students Program!
Halton Black Grad Coaches is run by Coaches Breanna Phillip and Jordan Lyons, and caters (seriously, there’s always a surplus of snacks) to students here and in five other schools within the HDSB. They do events both inside and outside of school such as movie nights, games and picnics!
Last year, I attended many meetings and events. The environment was always warm and welcoming, and despite only meeting the members once or twice, I felt like I’ve known them for years.
Our club’s visits are few and far between, but that’s only because they’re constantly working on new activities.
If you would like to find out more about visiting times and see footage of their activities, inspirational clips and news, visit the official Instagram @hdsbgcbs! Please don’t be afraid to reach out to the coaches! All black and bi-racial students of all ages are welcome, they will be overjoyed to have more members and contribute to enhancing this school year!
Breanna’s Phone Number: (905) 691-1796 Jordan Phone Number: (905) 691-1950
Gabby: So Coach Bre, what is the Grad Coaches for Black Students Program?
Coach Bre: So — the Grad coaches for Black Students Program is a ministry program, it exists in the Hamilton Board such as the Toronto District School Board but it’s new to the Halton District School Board, and it’s a program created as a result of consensus data that showed that many black students within the board do not feel comfortable in their schools due to facing anti – black racism, due to systemic barriers, lack of representation in schools, teachers and students that look like them, and so this program is basically here to alleviate those issues, to offer representation, offer support systems to address anti black racism and to support students with academics — but — even beyond that, with culturally appropriate programming and services. We’ve created a safe space within five of the schools within Halton, MD being one of them.
Gabby: Very nice, thank you. Approximately how often do you come to visit MD, or even just how often are the coaches here for non club purposes?
Coach Bre: Yeah, so we’re here twice a week, so on Mondays and Wednesdays for the full school day. We are located in the library, we always have a stand up banner so you can’t miss us and yeah we’re here Mondays and Wednesdays from the beginning of the day to the end of the day.
Gabby: What is the best way to reach out to the BEC?
Coach Bre: So the best ways to contact me is you can drop in on the days I’m here, that’s Mondays and Wednesdays, you can just drop into the room, we can y’know, have a conversation, you can come see me. You can also reach me via email so that’s email@example.com. You can also text me and call me on my cell phone number which is
Gabby: Are there any upcoming events you’re looking forward to?
Coach Bre: There’s lots in store — because our space is new, I really want to ensure that we’re creating this safe space with students –so we’re going to be having an opportunity for students to come into the space and for us to kind of envision what we want the space to look like and really just create that safe space together, so look out for the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting it on our Instagram page and try to get it in the announcements as well, and yeah we’re gonna try come together to create that safe space with each other.
Gabby: Thank you for joining me, Coach Bre. If you’re interested in this club, please don’t be afraid to reach out, join or ask questions. Remember that all balck and bi-racial students are welcome as well as students who identify as black. Remember we’re like family here, and we can make school suck less as well as make it more comfortable for you. We do a lot of fun activities such as watching movies (we had that), we also played cards and — there’s a lot of fun stuff! Just please join, I know there’s a lot of like, new black students at MD and I know that we can make this year a great year. Thank you for having me, this is Gabby from the Mustang Messenger.