“I’ve got just one year left, and then I’m going to be a mechanical engineer,” Omar* says with pride.

Fourteen years ago, Omar and his family left everything behind in Turkey and landed in Calgary.

father and sonFor six-year-old Omar, that meant leaving behind his friends, aunties, uncles and cousins. It meant his new home was different – bigger, but with fewer visitors coming and going. His new school was different too – a maze of hallways and classrooms filled with unfamiliar faces. The scenery, the weather, and the language were different. In a 14-hour flight, his life had turned upside-down.

But Omar and his family were resilient. They were excited to be in Canada, and for all the opportunity and adventure that lay ahead.

During his first summer, Omar’s parents registered him in CTH’s Summer in the City program, a free, educational day camp for children from low income families. That summer, Omar developed vital skills, such as literacy and communication, and explored his new community. Between field trips to the library and the swimming pool, Omar learned how to care for his physical and emotional health. Quickly, his confidence soared. Suddenly, Omar didn’t feel so alone. He stood out as a leader.

Even when Omar outgrew Camp, he returned to volunteer and mentor other children. Today, he has nearly completed his mechanical engineering degree, proving that with a little kick start, children can reach their potential.

* Name changed to protect privacy

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