Toronto Programs

Torontonian of the year nominee: Don Givelos

For the second year in a row, CBC Radio's Metro Morning is looking for the Torontonian of the year. Meet Don Givelos, one of the nominees.

Executive director of Urban Squash Toronto runs after-school program at Jane and Finch

Don Givelos, who co-founded a program that teaches young people squash and provides academic support, said the result is 'happier, more positive children.' (Submitted by Urban Squash Toronto)

For the second year in a row, CBC Radio's Metro Morning is on the lookout for the Torontonian of the year.

The call is out for Toronto residents who are making a positive impact in their communities.

Nominee: Don Givelos

Don Givelos is the executive director of Urban Squash Toronto, an after-school program in the area of Jane Street and Finch Avenue West in northwest Toronto.

The program, founded in 2010, teaches young people how to play squash and provides academic tutoring seven days a week. Givelos said he was inspired to create Urban Squash after playing the sport himself for 25 years.

"Children need an outlet, and sports is a great outlet. You give them that outlet, you've got their attention, and you can get down to other things like academics and other issues affecting their lives," Givelos said.

'I wanted to take this sport to children that otherwise would not have a chance to do it,' said Givelos. Here, the Urban Squash group poses at a squash court. (Submitted by Urban Squash)

He decided to start the program in the Jane and Finch area because that was where he saw the most need.

"It's one of the most underserved areas for youth. It's constantly impacted by violence, drugs and different things that challenge a young person," he said.

Once students join Urban Squash Toronto, Givelos said the change is immediate.

"First and foremost, we see them become happier. This isn't just an after-school program. It's a full program from Grade 6 all the way to Grade 12. They come in, we feed them, they get to play sports, do their homework," he said. 

The Urban Squash Toronto program includes tutoring and academic support. (Submitted by Urban Squash Toronto)

Givelos was nominated by Urban Squash Toronto board member Carol Jardine.

"Don mentors them on academics but also just on being better people — and manners and respect. He takes them to sporting events across Canada, he takes them to the movies during the weekend if the kids need another outlet. I've just seen some kids blossom," she explained. 

Nominate someone you know

If you think you know somebody who should be Torontonian of the year, tell us all about them and why they deserve the recognition.

We want to know why this person means so much to you and to the city. Are they a particularly kind and committed neighbour? A best friend who goes above and beyond? A volunteer who's making the city better for everyone?

You can call CBC at 416-205-5807 or message us on Twitter or Facebook. We'll share some of your nominations with the city.

With files from Metro Morning