Supersonics

Partners team up to give Syrian refugees a shot at working with horses

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A group of area organizations teamed up with the end result being a group of about eight Syrian refugees getting a chance to attend an Amherstburg horse farm.

The Syrian children and an interpreter were brought to Sarah Parks Horsemanship Sunday as part of a partnership that involved a First Lego League robotics team known as the Supersonics as well as Firehorse Leadership Organization, the latter which operates out of Sarah Parks Horsemanship. There was also a contribution from Libro Credit Union, who gave Firehorse a $5,000 grant to develop such a leadership program.

Lynda Leopold, a parent/coach with the Supersonics, said members of their team knew Parks so when they had a project called “Animal Allies” they had to complete, many turned to the County Road 20 farm and Parks. That eventually grew to where they wanted to help new Canadians get welcomed into Canada and they wanted to acclimate them through horses and outdoor fun.

Leopold said Firehorse executive director Michelle Stein used contacts with the South Essex Community Council to find the children to participate in the day and thus the involvement with the Syrian children came about.

The Amherstburg Firefighters Association also helped with a grant, said Leopold.

A group of Syrian refugees now living in Essex County and a group of local youth leaders joined Sarah Parks Horsemanship and Firehorse Leadership Organization for a special “N’Eh Day” event Sunday. (Submitted photo)

A group of Syrian refugees now living in Essex County and a group of local youth leaders joined Sarah Parks Horsemanship and Firehorse Leadership Organization for a special “N’Eh Day” event Sunday. (Submitted photo)

Stein said the program is called “Youth Leaders in Action” and involves alumni of Firehorse’s “Emerging Leaders” program from 2015. When they teamed with the Supersonics, that brought the group to 15 members and their parents and that group met Sunday mornings for ten months.

The Supersonics raised $1,500 to support last Sunday’s event, Stein added.

“Today we welcome eight youth refugees to a day of fun, nature, learning about horses and agriculture here in Canada and making new friends. Ultimately, our Youth Leaders in Action will demonstrate their leadership skills they have learned and with that they will lead the day of activities, demonstrations, relationship building and next steps,” said Stein. “Our project will wrap up with a follow up meeting and evaluation of the process, including next steps for future community interaction.”

Nadim Alacadiy brushes one of the ponies Sunday afternoon at Sarah Parks Horsemanship.

Nadim Alacadiy brushes one of the ponies Sunday afternoon at Sarah Parks Horsemanship.

Local youth Maria Scott and Ava Argoselo said they got a lot out of the program. Argoselo said they are playing games and having fun while learning and employing leadership skills. Scott added they are learning about a new culture and pointed out they are playing each other’s games and music.

“It’s made us aware of other cultures,” said Scott. “It’s not just us.”

Nadim Alacadiy, one of the Syrian children now living in the Leamington area, said he is learning new things such as games and how to be around horses safely. He said it was a very positive experience.

“I’ve learned a lot of new things,” he said. “Everything is new.”

Stein added that many of the children are asking about returning and how to become involved with Firehorse Leadership Organization.

Local robot builders do well at Waterloo competition

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A group of local students, including Stella Maris’ Mackenzie Parks, came home from Waterloo with some hardware thanks to their robot building expertise.

Parks, a Grade 8 student at Stella Maris, was part of the Centreline Supersonics team that won the mechanical design award at the 2015-16 Ontario West FIRST Lego League championship tournament in Waterloo. At that same competition, the Supersonics took fourth in the robot playoffs.

Mackenzie Parks, a Grade 8 student at Stella Maris School, is part of the Centreline Supersonics, a team that did well in a recent FIRST Lego League provincial competition.

Mackenzie Parks, a Grade 8 student at Stella Maris School, is part of the Centreline Supersonics, a team that did well in a recent FIRST Lego League provincial competition.

Pointing out the “Trash Trek” theme, Parks said there were a number of recycling based “missions” their robot had to undertake. Whether it be sorting, collecting or disposing of waste, the robot the team constructed earned points for how successful it was doing the drills.

The team also made a video entitled “Bug Farts can save the World,” which is can be viewed on YouTube. They teamed with Progressive Waste Solutions on the video.

“We feel really good about what we did,” said Parks.

Because they didn’t advance to the world competition, the Centreline Supersonics’ season is over but they were happy with how they did. While some Supersonics team members will still compete in the FIRST Lego League next season, others such as Parks move into the FIRST Robotics competition. Parks will be attending General Amherst High School next year and hopes to be part of a newly-launched robotics team at the school.

Centreline, where Parks’ father works, sponsors two teams, he noted. Other members of the Supersonics team come from around Essex County and include Ava Argoselo, Brendan Argoselo, Kurtis Paquette, Jenna Reaume, Luke Reaume, Craig Leopold and Ian Mitchell.