CAO’s Empowering Stories from Behind the Bench – April 2023
“I’m always looking to make someone’s life better whether it’s being around for conversations or just showing that I care for others, and I can help change their trajectory in life.”
By David Grossman
Powerful comments that are emotionally stunning.
They are from Trevaun Douglas.
“Life is a precious thing,” he said. “I grew up in an area, tough times, saw people struggle, violence, neighbourhood trauma and paranoia amongst young people, and I knew my purpose was to try help the next generation make things much better.”
There’s no need talking to Trevaun about his memories in the Lawrence Heights area of mid-town Toronto. That’s where he resides. He works in the same community, understands the issues and is now trying to help young people enhance their quality of life – by doing it the right way.
For Trevaun, raised by a single parent who had struggled to do her best for him and his siblings, it took a certain belief. There was also an abundance of confidence – a spirit of determination that would want him to leave his stamp. Also, a positive impact on a community hindered by turmoil over the years.
“My daily battle is to lead where I can – and get better at what I do,” said the 25-year-old, whose first name is defined as being one who is “sensitive, affectionate, imaginative and cooperative, and prone to self-sacrifice”. Add on being an individual who has developed intuition, patience, an ability to learn easily, nurture others and thrives on a desire to balance his life with those around him.
A youngster who had his share of tough times, relied on a foodbank, but still dreamed of a career as a health and nutrition coach and a trainer for athletes.
His strong words have already sent shock waves and a wake-up signal to young people who reside in what is believed to be the largest social housing redevelopment area in Canada’s iconic city.
It’s also a neighborhood, once hindered by gangs, compulsion, and vulnerability, that is now focussing on transformation by attracting newcomers while also meeting the needs of current residents.
Many would say it’s a difficult societal challenge, but Trevaun is determined to do his share of enhancing the quality of life in the area.
“I care about people and while I might not have all the answers, I can relate to the community and might be among the generation to solve one piece and then go on to fix other things,” he said.
Juggling his job as a custodian and maintenance worker with Toronto Community Housing in Lawrence Heights, Trevaun has benefitted from a small government grant that helps young people – between the ages of 15 and 25 – with his “Mind on Strength” program that cultivates skills.
As if that isn’t enough, you’ll find Trevaun working long hours at the neighborhood community centre. For him, it’s on a hardwood floor – where he developed a Friday evening basketball program that involves instructing and educating young people through sport.
“I needed to find a hook to get kids involved, to hear me and I know they all like playing basketball,” added Trevaun. “In basketball, the most important thing is character development – not scoring points. I tell younger people to have fun, it’s not about winning games, but keeping teams in good spirit, personal growth and realizing who you’re becoming.
“When I was younger, I had mentors. People cared about me and it’s now my turn to be an advisor, a part time coach and someone who can relate to young kids that while it’s so easy to take the wrong path and be a statistic, it’s time to wake up and do things the right way.”
Trevaun’ story is part of the Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO) Jumpstart Into Coaching program, which is being offered thanks to funding provided by Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities.
Trevaun went to Flemington Public School where he was big on poetry and music. Then it was off to Lawrence Heights Middle School, followed by two years at Vaughan Road Academy and graduation from John Polyani Collegiate. He then benefitted from a personal training course on business and nutrition, cultivated his skills, and was hired at the North York General Hospital as an attendant that served food to patients.
It was work experience, developing contacts, looking for opportunities and what he also called short term money to survive tough times.
Trevaun has met some interesting people along his life journey, but one individual he hasn’t is also one he admires and has inspired him. American athlete David Goggins and author of the book “Can’t Hurt Me”, has come a long way in his life. While Goggins was born with a congenital heart defect, asthma, and has grappled obesity in his life, he’s big on health and wellness.
“He gave me the best advice so far and said you’re in danger of living a life so soft, so comfortable that you would die without realizing your true potential – and that stuck with me,” said Trevaun. “He has encouraged me to always do better and it’s something I want to get across to others, too.”
Trevaun doesn’t talk much about his mentoring of junior age kids while coaching boxing or having created a documentary in 2020 during the pandemic, pointing out the struggles in the Lawrence Heights community. And there’s also the drop-in program he launched for teens, where they can learn about financial literacy, learn about mental health, seek resources – and do it all in a safe environment.
Whatever chance he gets, Trevaun informs people that his community program is about taking youth off the streets and allowing them to do something productive – rather than detrimental to their future. He also knows it can take the feeling of fear away from parents knowing that their kids are somewhere safe.
“One day, times will be a lot different in Lawrence Heights and it will be known for the right thing,” said Trevaun. “I’m always looking to make someone’s life better whether it’s being around for conversations or just showing that I care for others, and I can help change their trajectory in life.”
There’s a saying in the psychological world that nobody watches you harder than the people who hate your confidence. Trevaun continues to let his confidence shine through, hoping it rubs off on others who, like him, grew up confronted with challenges and serious struggles.
The Coaches Association of Ontario series, “Empowering Stories from behind the Bench”, continues to put the spotlight on individuals who educate the use of strong coaching fundamentals of improvement, guidance, and training.
“My purpose was to try help the next generation make things much better.“
David Grossman is a veteran multi award-winning Journalist and Broadcaster with some of Canada’s major media, including the Toronto Star and SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, and a Public Relations professional for 45+ years in Canadian sports and Government relations.
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