Wholesome Market has been a fixture of the Beach for over 25 years. This health food store is one place you can be sure to get nourishing food, health care products and build a lasting connection to people who care about community. Hanif and Taslim Jamal go miles beyond just selling you healthy food. They know that being healthy is not just about what you put in your body but how you live your life. Both of them are community builders who genuinely care for different kinds of people that live in our community.
Years ago when Hanif and I met, I told him about an organization I had helped to found, Community Builders Youth Leadership. Hanif was intrigued by our vision that ‘Caring Is Cool’ and ‘Everyone Counts, Everyone Belongs’. When I asked him if he would like to participate, he immediately said, “What can I do?” Since that time Hanif has been a regular champion of Community Builders.
On Sunday, Nov. 13, Community Builders Youth Leadership will be in the Wholesome Market sharing their work. Beach residents are invited to come on in and find out more. There will be healthy snacks (of course!), a Community Builders video to watch if you like, CB buttons and good old community schmoozing.
What is Community Builders?
Community Builders is a not-for-profit organization with charitable status, established in 1994. Through our workshops we have worked throughout Ontario fostering inclusive, caring school communities. Everybody has their own experience of a time where they felt less than welcome. In our workshops, young people, teachers and parents are trained to be allies who can address racism, sexism, bullying and other types of mistreatment in constructive ways.
In September 2003, the Canadian Public Health Association concluded that “Bullying, sexual harassment and racial discrimination are major public health problems in Canada’s elementary, middle and high schools.” On average, at least one or two children in every classroom experience ongoing targeting from other children, leaving them feeling alone, depressed and often angry.
Since their first Youth Leadership Institute in 1998, Community Builders has trained and inspired thousands of student leaders who have led workshops with more than 80,000 of their peers, impacting school cultures across Ontario. In 2003, Community Builders won the national Canadian Race Relations Foundation Award of Distinction for excellence in anti-racism programming.
Hanif told me he was no exception. “I connect to Community Builders because as a young person coming to Canada I felt like a minority in many ways. I want our children to feel safe and know that they belong.” Hanif and his staff go out of their way make all people welcome in the store.
Because of his earlier experiences as a child new to Canada, Hanif wants to help increase understanding and awareness of others who are may not look or act the same as us. He and Taslim, and their staff at Wholesome Market want to be part of building a healthy community, which is why their collaboration with Community Builders is a natural fit.
Jerry Brodey, writer and arts educator, lives in the Upper Beach and is a co-founder of Community Builders Youth Leadership