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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Above the Clouds

Seems like life always has more curve balls than expected, thus far my time in BC has been a bit frustrating.  Festivals, weather and other miscellaneous happenings are interfering with my plans.  As I have said before, during these days it is important to see the positive side.  

Yes, those are people!
Where's the Pipe?
I have been home for two weeks and due to weather, contests and photo shoots I have not ridden a solid day in the pipe.  Most of the time the pipe looks like this.
 That’s not to say that I haven’t been getting work done, just not the work I planned to do.  I came here to work on two specific tricks, but end up riding jumps, rails and the natural features of the mountain.  The positive part is that I still work on the essence and fundamentals of the tricks on these other features, and I must admit that I do have a lot of fun working new components. 

This makes me think about my seminar on passion and how a good work ethic supports my following of snowboarding.  Sometimes I don’t want to try new things because I know I will be awkward at them, let’s face it…no one wants to look uncoordinated and sloppy.  But in the end I trust my coach and am determined so I am willing to put myself out there; at this time of the year it means getting soaked too!  I know it will all contribute to the successes of my goals in the future. 

For today, it’s getting some house and computer work done.  I have the privilege of Rope for Hope, a thirty story repel in June for Make-A-Wish Foundation, so, I will be looking for sponsors.  Check out all the action HERE

For tomorrow, it will be waking up and looking to get the most out of my day.  My fingers are crossed for the sun to be out!!!    

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The last ten years of my life have been passion driven, and I must say that I am privileged to have found things I was passionate about at a young age.  I was lucky enough to be exposed to many experiences to gauge what my possible passions were.  However, not every kid out there is as fortunate as I was, and I am pretty sure the schooling curriculum does not include finding your passion.  So, for the past few weeks I have been composing a presentation to take to schools and social groups to get kids thinking.

My goal is to get them to think about what they are good at, enjoy, and are interested in.  Or to just be more conscience of what is happening around them so they can get some ideas on what they could be passionate about.  I feel this is an important step to get kids motivated and confident again. 

Included in my presentation is talk about how to make passions a realistic occupation, since I have so many great examples around me to pull from.  I live with examples like my friend Tenika, who is pursuing acting and modeling, but has her Bachelor of Arts in political science.  When speaking to her about this project she reminded me that your passion almost has to be an obsession, where perseverance gets you though many set backs.  With her, it is audition after audition, where getting turned down is a very common occurrence.  Another amazing example is my parents and our family business.  They deal with a lot of crap, but they are passionate about retail.  My Mom loves the social aspect and my Dad loves directing and taking care of everyone.  At times he sounds like air traffic control, making it happen for the people around him.  Lastly, I think of my own adventures and how the love of snowboarding makes me responsible and have initiative to work on my own on the mountain and off the mountain.  We are all people who followed our calling.   
Even though all our passions are different we all have one common trait…a great work ethic.  This characteristic allows us to live our passions as a job, where we live to work and not work to live, and we are okay with this.  It would be amazing if the next generation of workers lived like this too.  More people would take pride in what they do, work quality would rise, and the ordinary person would live a much happier life.

I am excited about this project and having the opportunity to inspire others to follow and live their dreams, as I was inspired to do years ago.  I have found great supporters like Sony of Canada, Iyashi Bedrock Spa, Anakie, Scott Goggles and iFound.  And I can’t forget about my incredible parents and coach/partner Roberto Marfia.  My supporters mixed with passion and work ethic is a recipe for success.  And with a little help, I believe anyone can follow this recipe.  I would love the chance to help a kid find their way and place in this world.         

If you would like more information on a presentation, which right now is a free presentation, please fill out a email form at /