150 Neighbours

Commemorating Canada's 150th Anniversary in Scarborough


Talented with kids. Very patient. Fun. Inquire about Shirley Lai, an instructor at Milliken Park Community Recreation Centre for the last five years, and come away impressed. Shirley was a Kinesiology student taking math and sciences until she discovered her true calling while working part-time for the City – and happily switched to Ryerson University’s Child and Youth Worker program, graduating in 2017. Shirley loves “being surprised by kids. I learn from my students all the time, and try to build rapport with them.” She balanced her Co-op placement at a downtown women’s shelter with two jobs and her studies. How?

“I do a lot of self-reflection. It helps me to improve myself and learn from my mistakes.”

In her (rare) free time, this natural teacher can be seen preparing activities for children’s sports and visual art classes, or writing cue cards and painting theatre sets for a drama class. Add ‘role model’ to her achievements? Check.

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