Meet Kids Help Phone’s 2016-17 National Youth Council
Kids Help Phone’s National Youth Council (NYC) is a small group of youth ages 14-25 who are leaders in promoting emotional health and well-being for youth in Canada. As a highly motivated and dedicated group, our NYC meets monthly to share ideas and collaborate on initiatives that impact Kids Help Phone throughout the year.
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
About me: I’m a student, entrepreneur and mental health advocate from “Winterpeg, Manisnowba,” who is enamoured with all things creative and innovative. Born and raised in one of the coldest cities in Canada, I’m someone who loves giving back to the community and effecting positive change. I’m also a proud Winnipegger and a fan of the Jets. I currently live with a mental illness and refuse to let the diagnosis define me. I don’t let my illness stop me from doing what I love to do. I’m very passionate about mental health advocacy, and I’m always working on initiatives on and off campus aimed at eliminating the stigma associated with mental health and improving services offered to those who live with a mental illness.
Location: Surrey, British Columbia
About me: I’m a grade 12 student and my Kids Help Phone journey began two years ago. Initially, I joined the Kids Help Phone club at my school just for volunteer hours. However, after taking part in activities held by the school’s club, I started to realize the importance of teen mental health and I wanted to make a difference in my community. Now, I’m the president of our Kids Help Phone club and I’ve organized several events to raise both money and awareness. My passion for emotional health and well-being brought me to Kids Help Phone’s National Youth Council and I’m so proud to be a part of this highly motivated and committed team. In my spare time, you can find me playing piano, jogging and hanging out with friends. Oh, and eating ice cream and sleeping, too.
Location: Newmarket, Ontario
About me: I’ve always been passionate about helping others in my community, so when I found out that a friend was dealing with depression, I wanted to learn more about mental health and how I could help. Naturally, I turned to Kids Help Phone. Serving as a legislative page at Queen’s Park, I had the opportunity to learn more about the issues impacting my community, and this fuelled my desire to find ways we, as youth, can make a difference. I’m extremely excited about joining the National Youth Council and getting to work with other passionate youth to spread awareness about mental health and emotional well-being. Outside of school, I enjoy watching the Blue Jays, listening to music and I’m an elite baseball player.
Location: Waterloo/Toronto, Ontario
About me: I joined the National Youth Council in 2014. The program was a great opportunity, allowing me to meet some of the wonderful people behind Kids Help Phone and learn more about the initiatives in development. Being on the NYC also equipped me with resources, tools and creative ways to approach the topics of mental health and youth well-being. Through my own experiences and the experiences of those around me, I saw some of the ways mental health shapes our lives. These experiences deepened my understanding of mental health’s impact and my interest in mental health related initiatives. It’s great to know that Kids Help Phone aligns with youth behind the scenes as well as on the front lines, and I’m thankful for being able to contribute through the NYC. As a member of many communities, I try to take my experiences with the NYC beyond the council, using my position as a student, friend, family member and more.
Location: Hamilton, Ontario
About me: Throughout high school, I worked directly with youth at schools, hospitals and community centres. It was through working with these individuals that I developed a passion for the well-being and emotional health of youth, and a desire to raise awareness about the challenges that many of them face. Now, I serve as a mentor to a number of first and second year university students and I’m a part of several clubs on campus that support children’s health and advocate for their rights. Being on the National Youth Council gives me the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse group of individuals who share a similar passion for making a difference in the lives of youth. In my spare time, I can usually be found reading, composing a new song on the piano, catching up with old friends or dreaming of my next vacation getaway.
Location: Toronto, Ontario
About me: I’m a grade 12 student in Toronto. This year will be my second year on the National Youth Council. I joined the NYC because I want to be a person who anyone can talk to comfortably about anything. I want to become this person because there are people like me who feel out of place and worse. There are times when I feel like I don’t fit in or live up to expectations. I also have friends that hide things because they’re scared of what others may think, and I want to be there for them. I love being a part of this council because it’s about being heard and finding comfort.
Location: Calgary, Alberta / Toronto, Ontario
About me: In September 2010, I began my Kids Help Phone journey by joining my high school’s Kids Help Phone club. Since then, I’ve sat on the Toronto Region Student Ambassador Council and held various roles before joining the National Youth Council. My passion for youth well-being and mental health grew from my own experiences, and Kids Help Phone has further ignited the passion and given me the tools to make a difference. It’s extremely meaningful to see the collaboration between NYC members, Kids Help Phone staff and volunteers, bringing together a diverse team in order to reach youth across Canada. Kids Help Phone has followed me into university life, as I’ve taken my experiences and lessons learned to help co-found a mental health initiative on campus. Outside of school, I’m an avid foodie, aspiring (but mediocre) home cook and I love karaoke.
Location: Calgary, Alberta
About me: As someone recovering from mental illness myself, I’ve dedicated the past three years of my life to mental health. Through blogging, leading my school’s Mental Wellness Committee and Jack Chapter, working with Partners for Mental Health, speaking as a panellist, attending summits, participating in the Alberta Children’s Hospital Youth Council and much more, I’ve been able to advocate for an issue that hits so close to home. Kids Help Phone is a resource that I’ve personally experienced the benefits of and therefore hope to give back to. Over the past two years, I’ve supported Kids Help Phone by volunteering at the annual Walk so Kids Can Talk presented by BMO. This year, I joined the National Youth Council in the hope of being more directly involved in the growth of such a vital resource for Canadian youth.
Location: Iqaluit, Nunavut
About me: Currently a student in high school, and a dedicated mental health advocate and volunteer. I’ve been volunteering for Kids Help Phone for about 7 years, and continue to act as the only fundraiser in all of Nunavut. Having mental health struggles myself, I realize how important it is for support to be offered to every youth in Canada. I realize that every issue is an important one, no matter how it seems to others around us, and that for many youth support isn’t offered in the most immediate ways. I hope that my involvement with the National Youth Council will help in continuing to make Kids Help Phone a huge support for kids and teens all around Canada, from shore to shore.
Location: Toronto, Ontario
About me: In 2008, I applied to be a student ambassador after hearing about the Kids Help Phone club at my high school. After attending that initial training, my involvement with Kids Help Phone has only grown. From sitting on the GTA Council to volunteering at many events, Kids Help Phone has allowed me to not only give back to the community, but to develop strong communication and leadership skills. Now, as an educator, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of giving youth a safe space to speak to someone about any issue. My goal as a National Youth Council member is to motivate and engage members to support Kids Help Phone and mentor new members to grow and develop skills.
Location: Richmond Hill, Ontario
About me: In grade 5, I immigrated to Canada from Iran, and the transition in both culture and language was one that took time to adjust to. It required a great amount of mental and emotional strength. This experience caused me to value mental health greatly in youth, and to work as hard as possible to better young people’s mental health by listening to them or taking larger actions with the councils in my city. Over the past years, being a member of my elementary school’s student council helped solidify the passion I have for the comfort and health of my fellow classmates. I’m taking part in Kids Help Phone’s National Youth Council this year in order to better the well-being of other young people. I consider this to be not only a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with other kids and teens, but a chance to give back to my community as well.
Location: London, Ontario / St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador
About me: Although originally from St. John’s, I’m currently studying in London, Ontario. After becoming involved with mental wellness initiatives in my high school and in my home province, I began working with Kids Help Phone in 2015 to develop the new BroTalk service, which focuses on male mental health. I’m genuinely committed to reducing the stigma around mental health and making sure it’s recognized as an integral aspect of every individual’s health and well-being.
Location: White Rock, British Columbia
About me: I’ve been passionate about mental health awareness since the day I realized that your mind can hurt as much as your body can. As a writer, I’ve spent years writing about my own experiences with mental illness and its stigma. Throughout the last few years, I’ve been involved in many mental health initiatives and clubs both within my school and in my community. This year, I was elected as student council president and we’re currently planning a mental health awareness week which will be one of our biggest and most meaningful events. I’m thrilled to be joining Kids Help Phone’s National Youth Council this year because I think it’s such an important organization and it will help give me a bigger voice as a mental health advocate.
Location: Caledon/Waterloo, Ontario
About me: I started volunteering with Kids Help Phone in 2011 at the Walk so Kids Can Talk presented by BMO. After volunteering at the Walk for four years, I received an email from Kids Help Phone about joining the National Youth Council. It’s amazing to be a part of a successful organization that helps other young people. I’ve been given opportunities to discuss bullying and what Kids Help Phone is about to youth in my community, and after being bullied for years in elementary and middle school, it’s refreshing to be able to help others and reassure them that they’re so much stronger than they think. Kids Help Phone is also becoming a part of my university experience, as I’m the vice president of sponsors and partners for my school’s Kids Help Phone club. Besides being involved with Kids Help Phone, I like to de-stress by cooking, writing rap songs and listening to music.
Location: Toronto, Ontario
About me: When I was little, I found out about Kids Help Phone through a school assembly. Fast forward to high school when I became highly interested in psychology. My school offered a co-op program, and in grade 11 I landed a placement with Kids Help Phone. It was perfect because this organization supports the overall well-being of youth, something I’m a huge advocate for. I continue to volunteer through the National Youth Council. It’s been two years and I’ve seen and learned a lot. From preparation and communication skills to developing leadership qualities, I wouldn’t have grown so much as a person without the wonderful people behind this organization!