Comprised of York Region high school students and supported by Markham’s Mayor and town councilors, the Mayor’s Youth Task Force (MYTF) is the youth branch of the Markham City Council. In 1994, Mayor Don Cousens decided it was time to better meet the needs of the growing youth population in Markham. He wanted to understand the issues they were concerned about and whether or not the town was providing them with sufficient employment and recreation opportunities. The result was the formation of MYTF: a committee that provides local youth with a voice to offer input and develop initiatives, as well as an opportunity to give back to their community by planning fundraising events and volunteering for various community projects, including neighbourhood clean-ups.

“One of the main priorities for the task force is giving back to our community. When it came down to deciding a charity that we wanted our fundraising proceeds to go to, as a group, we collectively decided on United Way of York Region,” Shirley Long, student and Event Manager of MYTF states. “As an organization that is committed not only to youth, but to making a positive difference to everyone in our area, we knew that we could create a significant change in our region by providing them with our support.”

On April 28th, the task force, in partnership with several other local organizations and committees, organized Markham’s Amazing Race. Much like the television show, teams of two people (compromised of high school students) raced around Markham in competition. Stations were set up at specific and strategic locations; local police and fire stations, libraries, parks and community centres. Guided by clues, each team needed to work together to complete tasks in an optimal time in order to move on to the next station. Activities at each stop were both mentally and physically challenging, testing students’ endurance and smarts.

Contestants travelled by York Regional Transit, TTC, taxis and even ran to various pit stops to complete their tasks. Each team was escorted by an adult chaperone that did not help participate in the challenges, rather was on hand to ensure the safety and security of the Race. Local organizations and committees that were vital to the planning of Markham’s Amazing Race include: Markham Museum, Turn the Page, Markham Getting Together (MGT), Markham Youth, CanYouth, Youth Environmental Network of York Region (YENYR), Youth Volunteer Markham, Milliken Youth Council, Unionville Youth Council, Thornhill Youth Council and Tune For Life Markham.

Corporate Sponsors that have offered their support to MYTF include: Power Stream, The SPDA Motorsport Club, Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs – Ontario Region (CASC – OR), Town Country BMW, Town Country Volkswagen, MINI Markham, Pacific Mall, Cadillac Fairview, Checkers Fun Factory, Encounter Studios, Crupi’s Pizza and the band We Outspoken.

At total of 14 teams participated, representing the vast majority of high schools in Markham. When all was said and done, over $3,500 worth of pledges were raised in support of United Way York Region. If you would like to learn more about Markham’s Mayor’s Youth Task Force, log onto

Photo: Holly Kuchera /


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