Empowering Our Youth

Sarah Chan
United Way Campaign Co-chair

Over the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with more than 8,000 students across the Capital Region, talking about community, poverty and how United Way is making a difference.

Make Your Mark on Poverty is a project-based program I was involved in designing to engage youth and motivate them to get more involved in community solutions to help reduce poverty. Together, we wanted to show kids the impact they could make by encouraging them to think of projects that they’d run year after year.

With the launch of the Make Your Mark on Poverty program, many of the ideas brought forward by students have now become a reality, and some are highlighted in this issue of WE magazine.

Our team continues to be incredibly impressed by the engagement, the compassion and the creativity of these students. By removing participation barriers, we saw kids and youth of all socioeconomic backgrounds step up to offer their creative solutions.

One school grew a garden of plants from the many nations that make up the student body, learning how to can and pickle them for healthy, affordable snacks year-round. Another school with almost 100 per cent non-Canadian attendance created a support system for Syrian newcomers.

On a personal level, meeting youth in need is so meaningful. It doesn’t matter whether they are a first grader or a teen mom who has to bring her baby to class. They have the capacity to change the future of their city.

Just reaching out to our youth about the root causes of poverty, helping them understand what a complicated issue it is, can have incredible impact. Together, we can empower the leaders of tomorrow to help find a solution to poverty in our city.

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