Bus loads of students, football, and an intense amount of face paint. This is the sight of TD Waterhouse Stadium when high schools from across London fill the stands day after day for the annual United Way football games.
Each year, high school football teams have the opportunity to compete in a game which highlights school pride while raising money for United Way.
Jennepher Cahill is the Director of Development at United Way for the London and Middlesex region, and explained that the games, “engage students in a celebration of school spirit, while simultaneously raising awareness around key issues that resonate with these students.”
She continued to highlight the topic of mental wellness, which the United Way has been dedicating much attention towards. This year, their goal is to ensure 16,000 counselling sessions are available for individuals who want to improve their mental wellness.
This is something the Vice Principal of Banting Secondary School, Renée Shave, emphasized as a key reason for the significance of these games. “This is a very important fundraiser for us at Thames Valley because so many of our students benefit from the United Way.”
For the students, it is an event that is anticipated each year as one that brings their entire school together.
Sam Maclean is one of the Faith and Culture Ministers on Mother Theresa Secondary School’s student council and shared that this game is an opportunity for the school to come together as a community, to dress up in their school colours and exemplify immense school spirit.
In her final year as a Spartan, she reflected on her years attending the games and said that the school spirit has intensified each year. “We get more and more excited and now that I am in my final year, it is cool to see the grade nines get excited about this event because this is something I will always remember from my high school career.”
Cahill added that the staff at United Way would like to extend their gratefulness towards every United Way volunteer and the teachers of both the TVDSB and LDCSB for their dedication in facilitating these events for the students.