Empowering the Youth

Seems in these fast times with more attention to the media and less to ourselves we can easily get lost in the mix. At least, this is how I feel and I am an adult…most of the time. 
Empowering ourselves and others give the chance for change.  This can be a catalyst to something grand, something imperative to a life. 

Today I was able to see others in my hometown community of East Scarborough take steps to empower the local youth at the 2012 Unity in the Community Youth Conference hosted by the East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club.  I was invited to speak on a panel discussing empowerment and how we were empowered. 

One person spoke about how education and being self sufficient empowers them,  referring to the “catch a man a fish or teach a man to fish” phrase.  Another spoke about how expression through art empowered them with the freedom of creativity.  I spoke about how inspiring youth through setting an example of following a passion supported by hard work empowered me.  What I didn’t say was that even just being there, feeding off the energy in the room also empowered me.  What a feeling!

I then found my way around to different workshops.  The first was with Claude, he was speaking to a group of males about how education was the key to success.  He emphasized that it doesn’t matter if you do it all at once, because sometimes life happens, but you do need to complete it at some point to give you the best chance at success in life.  The next was with a group of young females and that leader spoke about how media contradicts itself constantly, how it is important to recognize this and take it into account when buy products or thinking about one’s body image.  The last one was with Amir, this was mostly a discussion on how our perception of others affects us and why certain faces makes us feel differently about people before we become acquainted with them.  I am sure the participants in the groups were as enthused as I was. 

The last big event was the community walk, a 5km walk around the heart of East Scarborough.  Not only was it a chance to get out into the beautiful Torontosun, but it also gave me the fortune to speak to some of the youth at the conference on a more personal level.  Three students in particular caught my attention.  A bubbly girl named Khusubu, the creative one, Taylor, and the comical one Mayo.  I loved learning about what their passions were and their special roles in their clique of friends.  I was so impressed on how bright and insightful this gang was for being in grade 8, they all spoke at least two languages and were so open minded.  I was especially taken with 13year old Khusubu and her discussion on how insecurities are derived from fear…she is going to email me the book she is writing and the one her friend is writing…no big deal.   
 
When I left the conference with certificate in hand and a thank you card I really felt as though I needed to thank the East Scarborough Boys & Girls club for having me at the event.  I loved meeting new people, like constable Mat Crisp, and talking about how to make changes and improvements in local communities.  I felt recharged and motivated to go out and empower the people around me.  This day was the best part of my week and I will be sure to carry it for a long time! 

Special Thanks to Nneka for the invitation

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