by Melissa Bessey

George Brown College is an institution that is constantly growing and evolving in order to meet the changing needs of students and staff. Inspired by a commitment to achievement through excellence in teaching, applied learning and innovation, the school also takes pride in considering the surrounding communities within which their campuses are located.

When opening their ultra modern Waterfront campus Anne Sado, President of George Brown and staff, along with developers and the school’s additional stakeholders, were firmly focused on positively contributing to reinvigorating downtown Toronto’s Waterfront, while providing access to and support for the local community. Additional core focuses for their newest facilities include having an awareness of the environment, as well as overall flexibility and usability of space.

the school integrates into the community in a unique and meaningful way

By building a campus that is very open-concept and affording access to the public, the school integrates into the community in a unique and meaningful way. Anne reaffirms this sentiment: “It was very important to create a great feeling of openness and also, a space that can be used for events. Many other spaces don’t have a lot of room for people to move around or for hosting events, but utilizing this space allows us to support other groups.

We host our annual aboriginal pow wow here, we’ve hosted a mayoral debate to introduce the students to civic issues, we’ve worked with groups like Baycrest to host hack-a-thons on topics such as dementia, and our School of Fashion Studies has had their annual fashion show here. So students from our other campuses get to enjoy the space as well.”

The school recently hosted its 3rd Annual Food Court Social, to raise funds for their Augmented Health programs. Offered in partnership with CAMH, George Brown defines ‘Augmented Health’ as programs designed for people who have had mental health or addition problems. Anne explains that “there are two programs, one is Construction Craft Worker and the other is our Assistant Cook Program. We have about 10-12 chef food stations; in the past we’ve had visiting chefs like Roger Mooking, alumni Mark McEwan and Lynn Crawford. The government does provide money for these special programs (though not enough). Some funding support comes from both The City of Toronto and The Ontario government but by hosting the annual Food Court Social, the school is able to sustain these programs. We do this because students taking these courses often need extra support and they get it by having life coaches and job coaches provided as part of their studies.”

At least 80% of all graduates from the Augmented Health courses are still gainfully employed 6 months after they graduate, so it’s evident that participating in the programs transforms their lives.

The school’s state-of-the-art Health Sciences Campus is set in a picturesque locale right at the foot of the waterfront. Just a little more than a stone’s throw east of the Harbourfront, near Sugar Beach, the Health Sciences Campus was built to be fully digital and according to LEED Gold standards. Achieving LEED Gold certification is part of the school’s commitment to both the community and the environmental sustainability of the area.

The full name for the main building of George Brown’s waterfront campus is The Daphne Cockwell Centre for Health Sciences, named after the mother of Jack Cockwell (from the Brookfield Foundation), in recognition of the 8 million dollars he donated to the waterfront campus, to support the school’s plans for future expansion.

George Brown also has a large ECE program with multiple locations around the city; some are even housed within other schools (like Ryerson) so expansion plans include adding a daycare to the new facility.

these programs provide services to the public that include dental care, hearing tests and fitness training

An innovative series of programs housed at George Brown’s Centre for Health Sciences is called WAVE, which stands for Wellness, Applied Research and Visionary Education. It is all about immersing students in the future of health care. Based firmly on the principle that students ‘learn by doing’ these programs provide services to the public that include dental care, hearing tests and fitness training.

“The WAVE services offered to the public provide cost effective options for the local community while giving students hands-on opportunities to learn through real life experiences, in a well monitored, educational environment. To date, these programs service 500 students and over 10,000 clients annually.”

The school’s commitment to weaving health and wellness together includes the building design having a central staircase that runs up and down the middle of the facility. By placing the main stairwell in the middle, rather than on the outskirts of the building, it encourages people to walk instead of taking the elevator, prompting students, staff and visitors alike, to consider making healthy choices like walking, whenever possible.

Every classroom inside George Brown’s waterfront campus is equipped with the same AV setup so that it is easy and efficient for faculty members to set up a class. Classrooms also feature large whiteboards for teachers and smaller, movable whiteboards that students use for group work that can easily be hung at the front of any classroom, for presentation purposes. The student desks inside each classroom are also moveable; these non-fixed (vs. fixed) features were all designed to create a flexible teaching and learning environment.

Another unique feature of the school’s new campus is its open-concept auditorium spaces that have been renamed as Learning Landscapes. The Learning Landscapes were designed with retractable and moveable seating, as well as plug & play charging stations, which all help to promote student collaboration.

Whether you’re a student fresh out of high school, preparing for college admissions, a new learner of any post-high school age or you’re a member of the waterfront community, George Brown College’s waterfront campus offers programs that encourage learning by doing, with the WAVE Clinics providing real life experiences that are beneficial to students and the public alike.

If you have yet to see the Daphne Cockwell Centre for Health Sciences, take a stroll by the Waterfront campus or visit their website to stay up to date on events and affordable services that are open to the public.