Investing in Children Blog

Unmask Your Potential

We have an exciting week here at Investing in Children! Our annual Kids Power Conference at the London Public Library, Central Branch is this Thursday, November 12th

The Kids Power Conference brings together students from grades 6 and 7 who have been identified as leaders by their teachers and peers. The students participate in workshops, develop their leadership skills and learn techniques to bring back positive initiatives to their own schools and communities. The idea is that you can unmask your potential and be your OWN superhero. 

Joel Hilchey 

We are pleased to announce this year's keynote speaker, Joel Hilchey. Joel has spoken to thousands of students across North America on the topics of leadership, character and community. We've invited Joel to speak about leadership, success and what holds people back. The students will be inspired and empowered as they work towards creating their best self! 

Learn more about Joel Hilchey

Our morning and afternoon workshop presenters share our passion for empowering youth and providing opportunities to learn and thrive. They are generously donating their time to hold workshops at the conference. We can't thank them enough! We are pleased to introduce: 

Spencer Brudenell, Rush Hour Canada & Susan Rosato, London Health Sciences Centre: 

Inspired by oversees travel, Spencer became a Canadian certified personal trainer. He started London's first outdoor bootcamp, Rush Hour Canada and eventually opened his own studio facility in 2013. Spencer's passion for youth and fitness led him to a partnership with Susan Rosato. They started a pilot project called Movers and Shakers at St. Sebastian's Catholic School. This program is focused on student fitness and activity in the classroom and is still running successfully.

Susan graduated from St. Boniface School of Nursing in 1988 and began her nursing career at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). Susan's love and passion for fitness motivated her to develop a wellness program for employees in 2011. After an enormously successful pilot program, she founded LHSC’s on-site fitness program. She currently holds the title of LHSC Fitness and Health Registered Nurse. 

Derek Bindner, Aikido Network Training Centre

Derek is a martial arts instructor, presenter and trainer focused on personal development and leadership. As founder of the Aikido Network Training Centre, he coaches and mentors individuals on how to breakthrough fear, overcome self-limiting beliefs and realize their true potential. With 30 years of experience, Derek believes that the single most important factor in achieving personal fulfillment is the strength of one’s character. 

Meaghan Gowrie, Free the Children 

Meagan discovered her passion for social justice, kids and using the arts to create change after spending her summers in Jamaica with youth affected by gang violence and political unrest. Her passions led her to degrees from Brock University in Dramatic Arts and Education so she could continue to engage students inside and outside of the classroom. She has since found her dream job at Free the Children as a Motivational Outreach Speaker helping youth tap into their full potential. 

Ruth Major, London Public Library

Ruth has been a Children's Librarian at the London Public Library for nine years. The London Public Library is a busy system with 16 branches across the city and dedicated staff committed to providing excellent service and developing meaningful community partnerships. Ruth’s favourite part of her job is leading a preschool music program. Music is a personal passion of Ruth’s and she finds it fascinating to watch how easily kids learn music.

Leroy Hibbert, LUSO Community Services 




As the Multicultural Outreach Coordinator, Leroy facilities workshops, presentations and training on race relations, cultural diversity and awareness for youth, parents, professionals and community groups. Leroy is also a member of the Thames Valley District School Board and London District Catholic School Board's Safe Schools Committees, London Black History Coordinating Committee, Coaching Boys Into Men Committee and the Pledge to End Bullying Committee. 

Matt Ross and Violette Hammad, London Youth Advisory Council 

Violette Hammad is a London Youth Ward 10 Councillor with hopes of making the Westmount community a social hub for youth. She is a 2nd year student at King's University College studying Political Science and Criminology. Violette is immensely involved in the King's community as VP Events for the King's Debate Society and a King's College Council Representative. In her opinion, community involvement and volunteering are important components of making youth more engaged in the London community. 

Matt Ross is an experimenter in London. Experimenting in many areas of government, science and business. Experimenting with youth political engagement by founding the London Youth Advisory Council (LYAC). Experimenting with new technologies through Chemistry research at Western University. Or, experimenting with profit business by developing Brown Table Apps, a software company out of the LYAC.  

Das ist Wunderbar!

From Munich, Bavaria to London, Ontario...Oktoberfest arrived at Toboggan Brewing Company. on Wednesday, September 30. It was such a fun evening filled with live entertainment, a raffle, silent auction and Oktoberfest-style fare, all in support of our community programs. 

Thank you to our event sponsor, Selectpath Benefits & Financial, our many auction donors and generous guests for making our first Oktoberfest such a huge success! 

Book Camp London: 2015 Recap

Last week 38 campers, passionate about reading and writing, joined us for our 11th annual Book Camp London at the London Public Library. Book Campers were connected with professionals from the world of young adult and children's literature. Our group of talented and diverse presenters included six authors, two illustrators, a poet and motivational speaker.

Beyond presentations, campers also went on field trips, participated in daily Book Talks with library staff and were given time to work on their own writing. At the end of the week, we released our Book Camp Magazine filled with campers' stories, poems and illustrations. What an impressive group of kids!  

Thank you to our partners who helped make this year's Book Camp another huge success. We are grateful for the London Public LibraryFriends of the London Public LibraryThe Little Red Roaster and Panago Pizza at Fanshawe and Wonderland. We also can't make this week happen without our amazing volunteers and mentors!

If you would like to be involved in next year's Book Camp London as a presenter, volunteer or sponsor, or know of a child who would benefit from this program, please contact Nicole Robichaud at

Book Camp 2015 Presenter Line Up

We are excited to have a diverse and talented group of authors, cartoonists, poets and motivational speakers lined up to hold workshops at Book Camp London 2015! We invite you to read more about the presenters below.

Book Camp London 2015 Presenters

Eve Silver, Author

 Eve Silver

Eve Silver

National bestselling author Eve Silver has been praised for her “edgy… action-packed” books, dark heroes and take-charge heroines. In 2015, she won the OLA Forest of Reading White Pine Award. Her work was shortlisted for the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy (2014), and was both an American Bookseller’s Association Best Book for Children and a Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books for Kids and Teens (2013). She has garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Quill and Quire, two RT Book Review, Reviewers' Choice Awards, Library Journal's Best Genre Fiction Award and nominated for the Romance Reviewers’ Choice Awards, Library Journal’s Best Genre Fiction Award, and she was nominated for the Romance Writers of America® RITA® Award. Eve lives with her husband, two sons, an energetic Airedale terrier, an exuberant border collie/shepherd and a snake called Ragnar. Read more about Eve Silver.

Kevin Sands, Author

 Kevin Sands

Kevin Sands

Since escaping from university with a pair of degrees in theoretical physics, Kevin Sands has worked as a researcher, a business consultant and a teacher. He lives in Toronto, Canada. The Blackthorn Key is his first novel. Read more about Kevin Sands.

Kevin Sylvester, Writer & Cartoonist

 Kevin Sylvester

Kevin Sylvester

Kevin Sylvester is a Canadian writer, cartoonist, and news broadcaster. Based in Toronto, Ontario, Sylvester has written and illustrated a number of best-selling children's books. His most famous series is the Neil Flambé CapersRead more about Kevin Sylvester.

Leah Bobet, Author

 Leah Bobet

Leah Bobet

Leah Bobet's first novel, Above, was nominated for the 2012 Andre Norton Award and the 2013 Aurora Award, and her short fiction has appeared in several Year's Best anthologies. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she edits Ideomancer Speculative Fiction, picks urban apple trees and works as a bookseller at Bakka-Phoenix Books, Canada's oldest science fiction bookstore. Leah's second novel, An Inheritance of Ashes—a dustbowl-style epic fantasy with a touch of the weird—will appear from Scholastic Canada in October 2015. Read more about Leah Bobet.

Hélène Boudreau, Author

 Hélène Boudreau

Hélène Boudreau

Hélène Boudreau grew up on an island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean but now writes fiction and non-fiction for kids from her land-locked home in Ontario, Canada. She is the author of the popular Real Mermaids tween series, including Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings, which is a 2011 Crystal Kite Member Choice Award Finalist, and the picture book I Dare You Not to Yawn, which is a 2013 Parents’ Choice Award winner and a 2014 OLA Blue Spruce Award Honour Book. Read more about Hélène Boudreau.

Karen Krossing, Author

 Karen Krossing

Karen Krossing

Karen Krossing is addicted to stories. She began to create her own stories when she was eight, and today she’s the author of seven successful novels for kids and teens, including Bog, which was a 2014 Ontario Library Association Best Bets selection, and Punch Like a Girl, which was published in April by Orca Books. Karen also encourages new writers through workshops for kids, teens and adults. She lives with her family in Toronto, Ontario. Read more about Karen Krossing.

Dr. Kari-Lynn Winters, Author & Poet

 Dr. Kari-Lynn Winters

Dr. Kari-Lynn Winters

Dr. Kari-Lynn Winters is an award-winning children’s author, playwright, performer, and academic scholar. Sixteen of her picture or poetry books have been published or are in press. An experienced teacher of writing, she has worked with students across Canada and the United States, including pre-school, special education, primary and intermediate, high school, and university teacher education. Kari-Lynn is an assistant professor at Brock University in St. Catharines, ON. Her research interests include drama in education, children’s literature, literacy, and multimodal forms of learning. Read more about Kari-Lynn Winters.

Diana Tamblyn, Cartoonist

 Diana Tamblyn

Diana Tamblyn

Diana Tamblyn is a Joe Shuster and Ignatz-nominated cartoonist who has been actively writing and drawing comics for over 14 years. She’s exhibited her comics at small press fairs and comic book shows in both Canada and the US, and has had artwork displayed in various group and solo shows. In 2005, She was chosen by the Globe and Mail as a Canadian cartoonist to watch. Read more about Diana Tamblyn.

Wesley King, Author

 Wesley King

Wesley King

As a kid, Wesley's favourite topics were space, fantasy realms, and superheroes. He used to make up his own worlds and then translate overly elaborate stories into epic action figure battles. He was probably the only kid playing with action figures that had convoluted family histories, tortuous romances, and long-standing grudges. He was a special boy. But as he grew, so did his writing. Actually, he’s still writing about space, fantasy realms and superheroes. And he couldn’t be happier that other people are now reading his stories. Read more about Wesley King.

Saidat Vandenberg, Motivational Speaker



Saidat is a motivational speaker, author, singer, songwriter and life coach. With a great idea of wanting to make people smile and build confidence in the younger generation, Saidat's program Music Movement and Motivation has now reached over 300,000 students across Canada. Saidat's message is now reaching world wide audience with over 3 millions views on Youtube and over 100,000 followers on social media. She leads a very strong message, from the heart, that "One person can make a difference, Together we can change the world!" Read more about Saidat.

About Book Camp London: Book Camp London offers fun and creative workshops over five days for children ages 10-15. The camp, inspired by similar ventures in other communities, connects children to professionals in the world of children’s literature. Authors, illustrators and other experts educate, motivate and mentor the campers. The students' writing and illustrating skills are developed, their knowledge of careers in literature increases and they continue to develop an interest in learning opportunities outside the formal classroom. Learn more here.

The Urban Garden Project: A First-of-its-Kind Outdoor Learning Space

On Friday June 19, 2015, Jean Paul II Catholic Secondary School officially opened their first-of-its-kind outdoor learning space, dubbed The Urban Garden Project.

The unique classroom features the latest technology in sustainable design and water conservation. It has areas for food production and horticultural education, where students will plant annuals, vegetables and herbs in raised beds that are wheelchair accessible and easy to maintain. The space will provide information and hands-on skills to encourage students to grow their own vegetables.

Gardening and preparing food is fun and really hands-on… much better than just having to sit and listen!
— Student at Jean Paul II Catholic Secondary School

During the school year, the food grown in The Urban Garden Project will be used in the Jean Paul II's breakfast program. The program, partially funded and supported by the Ontario Student Nutrition Program London/Middlesex, will provide a healthy breakfast three days per week to approximately 250 students at Jean Paul II.

During the summer months, London InterCommunity Health Centre will tend to the gardens and use the produce in their programs.

Jean Paul Urban Garden 05
Jean Paul Urbal Garden 02

The outdoor classroom also features permeable pavers, a sensory garden irrigated from an underground rainwater collection system, drip irrigation, a compost area and a stepping stone pathway that wanders through the environmentally sustainable garden.

The Urban Garden Project was funded by a $50,000 Healthy Eating Grant from the Ministry of Education, successfully obtained by a group of John Paul II students through the leadership of their Vice Principal, teachers and staff.

 Cindy Machado, Investing in Children Community Partner Coordinator & OSNP London/Middlesex Chair

Cindy Machado, Investing in Children Community Partner Coordinator & OSNP London/Middlesex Chair

Jean Paul Urban Garden 04

At the ribbon cutting, garden contributors, supporters and school officials presented on the project, including the progressive irrigation system and permeable paving. City of London Mayor Matt Brown and City Councillor Mo Salih also joined the celebration, showing their support for The Urban Garden Project.

Local artist Ted Hayes, known for his tree trunk carving seen across the city, donated a wood sculpture to The Urban Garden Project and provided a demonstration of his talents.

Permacon, one of the Landscape Ontario members who worked on the project, capped off the event by hosting a barbecue for all involved.

 City of London Mayor Matt Brown (Right) with City Councillor Mo Salih (Left)

City of London Mayor Matt Brown (Right) with City Councillor Mo Salih (Left)

The Urban Garden Project was made possible by contributions and volunteer efforts from John Paul II Catholic Secondary School, London Middlesex Master Gardeners and Landscape Ontario members Tydan Landscape Design, Permacon, Grand River Natural Stone, Arroc Aggregates, Aquascape, Mackenzie Irrigation, Bobcat of London, Connon Nurseries/NVK Holdings and D & J Paton Landscape Supplies.

About Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association

Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association is one of the most vibrant associations of its kind, comprised of over 2,000 members, ten sector groups and nine local chapters. Its trade mission is to promote the horticulture industry in Ontario, and its public mission is to promote the joys and benefits of green spaces. Learn more about the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association and Green for Life here.

About the Ontario Student Nutrition Program London/Middlesex

The Ontario Student Nutrition Program (OSNP) provides funding and a network of support to help schools across the province implement a healthy snack, breakfast or meal program for students in their community. OSNP London/Middlesex is the local contact group for student nutrition programs in London and Middlesex County. Learn more about OSNP London/Middlesex here.