I started Afro Women and Youth Foundation because of my daughter's experience in a Toronto District School Board (TDSB) school between 2016 – 2018. As a newcomer in Canada, she was very excited about starting school, but that excitement did not last long. She got to school and realized she was the only Black girl in class, and the other girls became very mean to her.
They said she wasn't allowed to play with them, so she was always alone at recess. She took jump rope to school to play alone at recess; she sometimes volunteered to help in the kindergarten classroom to avoid loneliness at recess. I went to school to speak with her teacher, and her teacher said she had observed what I came to report, but unfortunately, there was nothing she could do because children have a right to decide who to play with. I was shocked to hear that an Ontario Certified Teacher (OCT) could say she is clueless about handling anti-black racism. I wondered if she was racist, and I imagined how many other OCTs and RECEs we have as teachers and educators of Black children across Canada are racist.
I changed my strategy since I could not trust the system. I decided to empower my child. I mentored and became a coach to my daughter. I encouraged her to speak up for herself and confront anyone who mistreats her and fight for herself. Over time, she developed confidence and built resilience. She was later recognized for being helpful and responsible at the same school because she still found the strength to help newcomers in her class settle into the school system. She also continued helping in the Kindergarten classroom.
My husband supported her a lot with assignments from school, and her grades went up. She became a happy child and cared less about the mean girls. We later moved out of Toronto, and she continued school in the York Region District School Board (YRDSB). Her leadership skills were quickly noticed, and the same year she joined the school, she got the award for "The Most Confident" child in the class. She had found her voice, and no one could take that away because she was empowered to advocate for herself.
While supporting my daughter, I spoke with other women and discovered many newcomer Black women also struggle with discrimination. I saw that I could do something to empower women and youth to thrive in the face of anti-black racism just like my daughter, so I started AfroWYF.
Please watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8sSc0gplyU and contact me if you can support my work in any way. Thank you.
Adebola Adefioye, RECE
Founder | https://afrowyf.org/
Certified Speaker, Coach & Trainer
The John Maxwell Team