Yesterday I was Amazed and Inspired by Canada’s Youth

Posted Friday, March 25th, 2011. Filed Under Voices of youth

I was approached by a young man, Jimmy Budny, from the Town of Markham (one of our regions within the Greater Toronto Area) who was part of a group of youth that make a difference in our community.

I asked if I can meet with this group to share with them my work, Youth Movement, Kidz2Kidz and other ideas that I have regarding empowering, mentoring and guiding our youth and teaching them about the power of their voice to create change. I spoke with a young woman named Tiffany. We agreed that I will come into their council meeting and take a few minutes to talk.

The meeting was yesterday. I arrived at 5:30pm and was met by Tiffany. I liked her immediately. She took me into their offices where I sat with Tiffany and her supervisor, Karen Hugh, Recreation Supervisor, Centennial Community Centre. I wanted to know more about this group and who supported them. They are a group of young kids between the ages of 10 and 18 years and are supported by The Corporation of the Town Of Markham. These youth come together to create events and programs to raise money for different causes (they are currently involved with The Yellow Brick House, a shelter for abused women) that make a difference in the community. They focus on empowerment, growth and development and teach children how to use their voice for change. Well I knew I was in the right place!

I shared with them my vision of Voices of Youth movement, Kidz2Kidz and our charity work – how it started and what we want to do, and then I shared a vision of a boot camp geared to kids in university/college and/or between the ages of 18-22, that focuses on social entrepreneurs, corporate culture, corporate social responsibility, authenticity, accountability and responsibility. They loved the idea.. I am working on it. I told them of my move to create a foundation/not-for-profit (haven’t quite figured it out) with a charity designation. With that I can get funding as well as go after donors who care about our youth and their future and the future of Canada as a whole – who aligns with the vision and mission of Voices of Youth. I also want to align with other youth organizations that hold similar values and core beliefs around our youth.

In that short meeting I really knew that a friendship had been formed and that we will collaborate on many ventures together. This is a group of action, with a strong desire to make a difference.

I then had the opportunity to address the whole group/council. I walked into a room filled with kids. There must have been 25 kids there. I was astounded. In our previous meeting I asked Karen why the kids do this, is there a reason – for instance they can get their required # of community hours by doing this – she said, that the kids come for various reasons. I can relate to that for I have worked on a number of charity committees and it was the same for that. I looked around this room and it really brought a smile to me. What was great is how relaxed they were. It was not a formal setting with table and chairs. Instead, the kids grabbed bean bags and/or a space on the floor. I started on the floor however decided to move to a chair (does that mean I am getting older — no just wiser, the floor is hard!).

Tiffany introduced me and I had the opportunity to share who I am, the vision of Voices Of Youth, Kidz2Kidz and how and why it started. I spoke to them about being the voice of change and how with guidance and mentoring they can effectively challenge the status quo. I talked about the intergenerational relationship that I am fostering through the dual mentoring program and why this is so important to them. I drew on events of the world and how the young are saying enough (Libya, Egypt, and the entire Middle East). Young people want change. I mentioned the election that will almost 100% be called for Spring and how these kids will one day be the policy makers. How it is their duty to challenge systems that are not working well (status quo), to demand transparency from our government officials and programs. I talked about what I see being handed down the line to my children and them and I do not like it so together we can find a voice to demand change. And so I am creating “baby step” programs that gets our youth to create and foster these life skills so when the opportunity arises and they can demand change they will know how to create and execute it.

I only spoke for 10 minutes at most. The kids looked at me and nodded. They can relate to the issues I brought up – a concern as a mother and an advocate – health care costs, will there be a pension, environment, and so on. At the end they were silent and I laughed and said, “wow, it is not likely often that this group is so quiet and has nothing to say!” They laughed.

I grabbed my equipment that they collected to be donated to kids and families that are in need. I felt so good knowing that my life’s work, my passion, is being realized and that so many people are on the same path as me.

I want to wish you all a wonderful weekend.

All my love,

Sandra

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