Volunteer Spotlight: Q&A with Anisa Karimjee
To create special places, we need the next generation to participate in community placemaking. Hear from one of our young volunteers about why public spaces are so vital.
Published on September 14, 2023
Public places are powerful tools for both bringing people together.
But when it comes to community placemaking, engaging the entire community is critical — that includes young and old. Youth voices and perspectives are instrumental in creating vibrant public spaces, nurturing environmental stewardship, and promoting outdoor education.
This month, Evergreen wanted to connect with young placemakers in our community. We’re excited to chat with Anisa Karimjee, a Grade 11 student in Toronto who volunteers with the camps team at Evergreen Brick Works.
Anisa shares some of her most memorable moments as a camp volunteer and offers some advice for other young people who want to become stewards of the land and places they enjoy.
Could you share a bit about yourself with our readers?
In my spare time I like to crochet and I’m also learning how to knit. I often spend time crocheting with friends and I have also taught others to crochet. My favourite thing to make is clothing and I’m always admiring others’ work as inspiration.
How long have you been a volunteer with Evergreen and what inspired you to get involved in the first place?
I started volunteering last summer with the camps at Evergreen. I got involved as I was a camper myself in previous years and I have many great memories. I really love spending time outdoors and the idea of working outside sounded like an amazing opportunity. As a kid, I enjoyed the way the camp was organized. There is a lot of independent play while also having group activities. The idea of being a part of what made the camp function as a volunteer sounded very appealing to me.
Tell us about your role as a volunteer — what does a day look like for you?
At Evergreen Brick Works camp, volunteers are there to support staff in many different ways. A big part of your role is to make the space welcoming to campers. Often, on the first day, campers can be a little nervous in the new space and we need to get them warmed up. I often ask campers how they’re feeling on their first day and ask questions about their experience with nature. This helps campers get excited remember the joys of being in nature. At camp there is also an opportunity for volunteers to facilitate activities during the week. This allows the volunteers to step outside of their comfort zone and play a bigger role within the camp. For example, this year, I decided to facilitate alternate activities, providing a crafting activity in order to entertain those who were more interested in quiet downtime.
Can you share any memorable or fun stories from your time volunteering with Evergreen?
After two years at Brick Works, I have finally developed a story for my nature name: Frog. We often go to a place we call Frog Bog, which is part of the Don River. It gives campers a chance to explore the inner workings of the Don and be immersed in nature. Whenever we go, I tell the campers that I am a frog and that I live in Frog Bog. This often leads to a series of stories about how Frog Bog works and who lives down in the bog.
What has been the most rewarding or fulfilling aspect of your volunteer experience?
The most rewarding aspect of volunteering has been providing a program that allows kids to explore a nature-filled environment within the city where kids get to learn and explore. It’s amazing to see kids who have a lot of memories and knowledge of nature be with kids who haven’t had the same opportunities. Together, they deepen their understanding of nature.
We young people will need these spaces in the future to enjoy.
Evergreen Canada focuses on creating great public spaces. What's your favorite public space in your community and why?
I really enjoy the parks near my house. It's a space where people come together to play. I remember meeting random kids in the park as a child and deciding to become friends and play games together. Even now, when I babysit, I get to witness these friendships being made. The park is also a place where there are dance shows, markets and even plays. This allows for a wide range of people to come together to celebrate one space.
Why do you think it’s essential to involve young people in our placemaking work?
The Brick Works is a space produced by humans and non-humans. Humans, plants, water and animals transformed a broken-down factory into a public space where people in the city get to come and experience nature. In exposing a younger generation to placemaking, they see the potential in the process of revitalizing the city while working with nature. We young people will need these spaces in the future to enjoy.
What message or advice do you have for other young individuals who want to become stewards of the land and places they enjoy?
I think they should find a place where they feel comfortable to learn. No one will ever know everything about the land they live on, or the animals and insects they live with. But, by observing and even reading about nature, their knowledge will grow. I also think people should make the effort to escape into nature as much as possible. Living in the city can make it hard for people to experience nature. By going out into nature, even if that’s a park in the middle of the city surrounded by buildings, you can learn a lot about the space around you.
Learn how to get involved
Want to volunteer with Evergreen? Through volunteering, you can take action and help make your city better. Volunteering is a great way to give back, share and build new skills, connect with community and nature and have some fun. Volunteers in our network will receive training and learning opportunities, regular communications, ongoing support and appreciation. Our volunteer opportunities span many areas of Evergreen’s work including child and youth programs, public markets, community stewardship, festival and events and more. See current opportunities or register to volunteer.
If you have additional questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-596-1495 x331.