Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Helping at-risk kids get back in the saddle

Andrea Weissman-Daniels, second from left, has some fun with children who are getting dance lessons courtesy of Ignite the Spark.

IGNITE THE SPARK

The donors: Andrea Weissmann-Daniels and Mark Daniels

The gift: Creating Ignite the Spark

The reason: To finance extracurricular activities for at-risk children and young adults in Toronto

Story continues below advertisement

After years of trying to adopt a child from overseas, Andrea-Weissmann Daniels and her husband, Mark Daniels, finally adopted a young girl who had been in foster care in Ontario.

The eight-year-old, whom they asked not to identify, had had a troubled life, having already gone through one failed adoption and spending several years in a foster home. She lacked confidence and social skills, leaving her shunned at school and withdrawn.

The Daniels tried everything to help her fit in and nothing seemed to work. "It wasn't until we stuck her on a horse that her whole world just opened right up," said Mr. Daniels, a property developer in Toronto.

They enrolled her in riding lessons and the change was almost immediate. She became more confident, won awards and soon began participating in activities at school. The couple said their daughter, now 16, has been transformed.

The Daniels wanted to give other at-risk children the same opportunities and a few years ago they launched Ignite the Spark, a fund within the Children's Aid Foundation that covers the cost of music, sports and other activities for children and young adults who have been designated by social workers.

The financing lasts for three years, or longer in some cases, and includes paying for equipment. The Daniels have raised $450,000 so far for Ignite the Spark, and nearly 100 children have benefited.

Last year, the couple got to meet some of the first recipients of the funding. "They thought it was the greatest gift they had ever been given," recalled Ms. Weissmann-Daniels.

Story continues below advertisement

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
European Correspondent

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. He has also won a Sports Media Canada award for sports writing and authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.