University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine
Photo of a young girl with a plush bear.
Photo courtesy of W.A.T.C.H.

Namecheck: W.A.T.C.H.

Five years in an ashram inspired U of T student Neilank Jha to found this long-running community service club

Words. Action. Thought. Character. Heart. (W.A.T.C.H.) is a community-service club with a U of T chapter that helps children and youth in Toronto’s low-income communities build a brighter future through education, sports and creative arts. During his time as an undergrad (completing a human biology BSc at UC), the group’s founder and chairman Dr. Neilank K. Jha worked every day, developing programs that now include scholarships, tutoring, after-school care, a soup kitchen, blood donor clinics and an annual family holiday party at Hart House.

Jha, who is a neurosurgeon, was inspired by the five years he spent, from ages 12 to 17, living and working in an ashram in India. He originally named the club Working Around the Clock Helping – an apt name for his tireless effort. Since the club’s founding in 1997 more than 10,000 volunteers have helped out – and more are always welcome. “It is important to remember that while Canada is a developed country, there are still individuals here who need assistance,” says the club’s current president, Parasavi Patel, a fifth-year biology student at University College.

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