With school wrapped up and no summer job due to COVID-19, a Toronto teen says he found himself with a little more time on his hands.
“At the beginning of quarantine especially, I was just going for a lot of walks because it was the only thing you could really do,” Jayden Daniels told CTV News Toronto. “I realized that I was bored of walking by the same places every day and I thought it would be more interesting if you knew a little about the place that you live.”
That’s what sparked Daniels’ idea for a walking app. The 19-year-old did some research, and not before long he had created, the ‘Toronto Neighbourhood Walks’ app.
“There are choices of neighbourhoods,” Daniels explains. “It has pictures, and I just do a voiceover narrative taking you to place to place, teaching about the history and the architecture of the various places and the stories from the neighbourhood.”
So far, Daniels has created walking tours for three different Toronto neighbourhoods – Upper Forest Hill, Cedarvale and Humewood. He’s currently working on a fourth neighbourhood, and hopes to do even more this
“We live in this neighbourhood, and it’s a really great way for us to explore our backyard,” says Lauren Grammer, who has used the app. “It’s a really great way to learn about the history of where you live and we’ve been loving it so far.”
The app is free to download, but Daniels hopes that those using it will make a donation to the North York Harvest Food Bank.
“[It’s] a fun activity while social distancing, but also a lot of people are struggling because of the current crisis,” Daniels said. “I thought it would be a good way to help those people.” summer.
“I know for a fact that we’ve been getting donations coming in because of this app,” says Henry Chiu, the director of development and marketing at the North York Harvest Food Bank. “What a wonderful gesture for a university student helping us getting his app going and raising money for us during this especially challenging times.”
Daniels says he’s been really happy with the response to his app, and community members say it’s neat learning about the history of their city.
“I think it’s really inspiring seeing young people getting creative and being curious about the areas they live in,” Kellie Grammer, another app user, said.
Daniels said he hopes more Torontonians will use his app as a way to get outside and give back.
“I chose the neighbourhoods that I did for the app because they’re residential neighbourhoods and people don’t think of them having a lot of history,” he said. “But really they do. History is everywhere, you just need to know where to look.”