BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2021
Date: Wednesday February 24th, 2021
Time: 5pm to 6:30pm EST
This event is free, however we welcome any donations.
Cynthia Appiah is a standout shot put and hammer throw athlete at York University. She was introduced to bobsleigh in the summer of 2011 when she attended a testing camp at her university. Cynthia tested, went to her first bob school, completed school and has been on a steady progression since going to her second bobsleigh school in 2013.
Cynthia enjoyed a standout rookie season on the World Cup where she pushed both two-time Olympic champion, Kaillie Humphries, to a gold and bronze medal, along with rookie pilot Alysia Rissling to her first ever World Cup bronze medal. Cynthia has excelled with fast pushes and medal winning performances at all levels while working her way through the system, sliding provincially and on the North America’s Cup circuit.
After heading to PyeongChang as an alternate on Canada’s 2018 Olympic Bobsleigh Team, Cynthia switched positions in the sled into the driver’s seat. Weeks after returning from Korea, Cynthia headed to Lake Placid where she took part in a driver’s school and now continues to master the art of piloting a sled on the National Development Bobsleigh Team. With her sights set on Beijing 2022, Cynthia aims to be a positive representation for Black youth and athletes in winter sports.
Cynthia also continues to be a force on the start block. Cynthia set a new Ice House start record from the pilot bar in 2019 at 5.41. Outside of bobsleigh, Cynthia watches Jeopardy religiously. A trivia buff who watches way too much television, Cynthia is a huge Blue Jays fan, and previously worked in the team’s customer services department. Her journey toward a life in elite sport began through a Jays Care Foundation outreach initiative where children from under-privileged Toronto neighbourhoods were invited to learn to play baseball at a local park.
She was recognized by her peers at Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton with the L. Lamont Gordon Award in 2019. Cynthia is one of four siblings in her family, and has a BA History Major/Psychology minor.
Akilah Newton is an activist, entrepreneur and author. She has always had a fascination with the arts and pursued her passion by studying music, drama and dance, and performing in productions at John Abbott College and as a member of the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. In 2003 she moved to England to attend the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. After earning a BA in Arts, Music & Entertainment Management she returned to Montreal and founded an organization for artistically-inclined youth. She founded Overture with the Arts (OWTA) in 2009; an organization committed to making the arts accessible to youth from all walks of life. She made it her mission to produce OWTA programs and events that spark discussions about social change. One of OWTA’s most popular programs is their annual Black History Month school tour. The tour visits schools across Canada and educates youth about Canadian Black History using music and spoken word.
Akilah is also the founder of Akilah Newton Projects Inc.; a company that celebrates diversity in ethnicity, gender and orientation through literature, games and art activities and supplies. In 2018 Akilah co-wrote the children’s book Big Dreamers: The Canadian Black History Activity Book for Kids Volume 1. The book highlights the achievements of Black Canadians whose stories are often left untold. Since 2018, Big Dreamers has sold over 5,000 copies. Due to the popularity of the book, in November 2020, Akilah co-wrote and self-published Big Dreamers: The Canadian Black History Activity Book for Kids Volume 2.
2021 is gearing up to be an exciting year for Akilah with the recent launch of her first full colour children’s storybook titled Movers, Shakers, History Makers: The Canadian Black History Book of Rhymes. Look out for several other product launches this year including a jigsaw puzzle, a line or crayons and more!