“He was monumental in my life.”

Paul Charters has had a lasting and profound impact in the Scarborough community, and beyond.

Paul was a teacher and coach for over 45 years, and cofounded the Birchmount Exceptional Athlete Program at Birchmount Collegiate Institute, otherwise known as BEAP. The program has been in running since 1988, and was designed to train young and talented student-athletes who wanted to specialize in their sport, while also providing strong academic challenges.

While at Birchmount he taught, trained, and mentored thousands of student-athletes—many that went onto professional careers in their sports as well as becoming successful in other accomplished fields.

Paul was considered ahead of his time by his colleagues. He taught athletes not only how to train properly, but helped them build good habits, and showed them the importance of good nutrition.

“Paul was teaching students about the glycemic index in grade 10, and I didn’t learn about that until second-year of University,” said Rob Pacas, who worked with Paul and took lead of the BEAP program after he retired. Many of the athletes who we spoke with who came through the program directly, credited Paul for helping them reach their goals.

Steve Kaye was one of Paul’s students who went onto having a professional hockey career in Europe—he gave him credit for helping him reach the pro level. “Paul created a foundation for my fitness level, my nutrition habits… You couldn’t have asked for a better mentor at that point in life,” Said Kaye. “He was so supportive, encouraging, and humble… He was the person you wanted to look up to outside of your father.”

Many others echoed Kaye’s sentiments.

“When I was in my teen years my mom passed—she was my rock, my foundation, and when she passed I didn’t have any hope. Paul definitely helped me through those times,” said Joe Rumolo, a former student of Paul’s who went on to play football professionally in the CFL. “He was monumental in my life, how can you repay that? You really can’t.”

Paul and the BEAP program built a strong partnership with Variety Village, which still stands today. The athletes train at the Village frequently. He had an appreciation for Variety’s inclusiveness and message, and wanted his students to see what the Village provided for others. “Sometimes we would go to Variety Village and play wheelchair basketball,” said Susan Eldergill, who was a student who did her co-op with the BEAP program. “He liked to give people an extra push to get outside their comfort zone.”

“He was hugely respected by the kids in the school, the staff,” Susan said. “He gave me a great opportunity to learn something new, and he was always looking out for people and showing respect.”

Above all, Paul wanted his students to enjoy their time in the BEAP Program. Pacas described the culture Paul built in the program, “If there was a legacy of his I tried to follow, it was to make BEAP the highlight of every students’ day, and make sure that every class mattered.”

Paul Charters helped shape the lives of so many for the better in our community. We will be forever thankful for Paul’s impact, his leadership in building the BEAP program, and for establishing an amazing relationship with Variety. He will be missed dearly. Our thoughts are with his loved ones.

Please reach out to tell us your story about how Paul’s generosity had positively impacted your life.

Stories about Paul can be sent to klarsen@varietyontario.ca