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Craig Morrison: at-risk youth have something to offer

Year: 2019 – Province: Ontario

Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Craig Morrison

All, with focus on art and design, and business entrepreneurship, grades 9–12
Oasis Skateboard Factory, Toronto, Ontario

"After a short time at the school, I realized that I was in an environment that allowed me to be successful because my peers and the teachers are so supportive that it actually feels like they want me to succeed."  — Student

The Oasis Skateboard Factory program flips the charity model for reaching young people on its head. Running this small design and skateboard building business, Craig Morrison creates opportunities for as-risk youth to be seen as people with something to offer not as empty vessels to be filled up.

Teaching approach

Craig seeks to engage students who do not fit into the regular school system. Immediately calming and encouraging, he creates a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere, while giving them thoughtful critiques and feedback on their work.

In the classroom

  • Reaches out to community partners and creative professionals, so students learn from people actually doing their jobs, who then serve as mentors; for example, they meet throughout the year with the staff of a company that specializes in branding, who help them build their own brands.
  • Organizes a project with an Indigenous theme each semester; students have created boards with artwork by local artists on the theme of water, for example.
  • Helps students develop skills and increase their confidence by, for example, teaching a class of 25 community members to build skateboards over an eight-week program, or applying for and winning a grant to use for their own businesses.
  • Introduces students to how power can be used in good and bad ways, which is useful knowledge for students who have struggled with the power dynamic in the regular school system.

Outstanding achievements

  • Founded and has run for 14 years the school board's annual alternative school art show.
  • Won the Ontario Art Education Association's Art Educator of the Year award in 2012.
  • Honoured, along with fellow program staff and students, by The Learning Partnership as official Champions of Education in 2018.

Get in touch!

Oasis Skateboard Factory
Scadding Court Community Centre
Room 3, 707 Dundas St. West
Toronto ON M5T 2W6
Facebook: @OasisSkateboardFactory
Instagram: @oasisskateboardfactory

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