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Groups from Markham, Pickering, Scarborough, and Toronto join Camp Suzuki this weekend

Toronto — This weekend a dozen teams from the Greater Toronto Area will be participating in the David Suzuki Foundation's new leadership training project, called Camp Suzuki. Over the course of two full day workshops at Toronto's Brickworks, the teams will begin the process of developing an innovative local project idea that connects people from their diverse networks and communities to nature.

"We at the David Suzuki Foundation are trying to do something a bit different," said Aryne Sheppard, manager of community leadership at the David Suzuki Foundation. "Instead of relying on traditional ways of engaging the public in environmental issues, this weekend we will be connecting with members of a diverse range of communities and interests to help take their inspiring project ideas and make them a reality."

The 12 teams were selected from more than 50 applicants for the program and include a wide range of communities and groups from around Rouge Park in the east end of the GTA. The teams include individuals from a Toronto settlement agency, a Markham Chinese youth group, high schools from Pickering and Scarborough, outdoors and naturalist clubs, an engineering firm and a university performing arts department.

While the groups' ideas are works in progress right now, the potential projects include: a weekend biking and camping adventure for new Canadians in Rouge Park; a campaign to appeal to gym-goers to get outside for their fix; a classroom-based butterfly rearing program; and a 'verbatim theatre' play about the wonders of the Rouge Valley.

"The goal of Camp Suzuki is to connect with these local community champions and empower them to initiate and launch these amazing projects," continued Sheppard. "Over the next eight months, David Suzuki Foundation staff will be working closely with the teams to assist in the development of the projects and help identify challenges and opportunities throughout."

The two-day workshops will take place January 28th-29th at the Evergreen Brickworks.

Camp Suzuki is part of the David Suzuki Foundation's efforts to connect GTA residents with nature in their communities and help establish Canada's first urban National Park in the Rouge watershed. The Rouge is a wild green space straddling the communities of Markham, Pickering, Scarborough and Toronto. It includes the current Rouge Park and the region's best remaining wetland, largest remaining Carolinian Forest, and is home to two National Historic Sites. The proposed Rouge National Park will be more than 30 times larger than High Park and provide public transit-accessible wilderness for millions of residents.

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For more information, please visit www.davidsuzuki.org or contact:
Aryne Sheppard, David Suzuki Foundation (416) 348-9885 ext. 1574
Jode Roberts, Communications, David Suzuki Foundation (647) 456-9752 (cell)

January 26, 2012