Canadian youth are notoriously good at starting movements and changing the world.
Just look at Pink Shirt Day (a.k.a. Anti-Bullying Day), started by David Shepherd and Travis Price of Nova Scotia. Another great example is the 30 Hour Famine, which was started by Ruth Roberts of Calgary more than 40 years ago. This fundraiser is now practiced in 21 countries around the world, and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to help fight hunger in developing countries.
Students today are savvier and more globally minded than ever. In many households they are the ones inspiring families to get involved. It does not take much to encourage and motivate today's young people to take action on things like volunteering, advocating or rallying for change.
Here are some pointers for students on how they can take those first steps:
Find a charity or campaign that matches your interests. What are you passionate about? If you care about fighting child poverty, you might want to participate in a fundraiser like the World Vision 30 Hour Famine. It's easy to enroll or connect with other participants at www.famine.ca. Students can organize a fundraiser by themselves, join a group or put on a party or event and invite others to do the Famine with them.
Find an organization you love. Get involved with something you legitimately care about. There are a variety of groups which provide opportunities to help locally at soup kitchens and animal shelters or help with broader global issues through community events and fundraisers that engage with larger issues.
Get your parents involved. You might need their help with researching opportunities, or driving you places -- ask them! Who knows, you might get your parents excited about the same cause and maybe they'll want to participate right alongside you.
Invite Others to Participate. Parents can encourage teens to build a network to promote their chosen cause at their school, church or throughout the community. Many organizations will have suggestions on how youth can connect with others.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Jananee Savuntharanathan, a Grade 12 student in Mississauga, runs the 30 Hour Famine at her school. She admits that it may seem a bit overwhelming to have an idea you want to make happen. Jananee suggests seeking out teachers and organizations to mentor you along the way to your goal. She notes that "I really feel that what has always gotten me through my accomplishments is the amazing teachers and organizations that I work with!"
By Sarah Bartley, World Vision Canada