Meet Kids Help Phone’s 2018-19 National Youth Council

Kids Help Phone’s National Youth Council (NYC) is a small group of young people ages 14-25 who are leaders in promoting mental 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.

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Name: Matthew,
Co-Chair

About me: Originally from Moncton, New Brunswick, I’m now a first-year university student in Montreal, Quebec. For several years, I’ve worked to ensure youth participation in advocacy for international development projects in the critical areas of food and water security and education access. Youth mental health has always been a cause close to my heart as I’ve witnessed first-hand how mental health struggles affect people and those who care for them. I applied to the NYC so I can use my campaign planning and youth engagement experience to help create effective national initiatives in support of youth well-being. My interests and hobbies include politics, policy, singing and badminton.

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Name: Julia,
Communication Coordinator

About me: I grew up in Calgary, Alberta but today can be found at McGill University in Montreal where I’m studying psychology and communications. As someone who has struggled with mental health, I now dedicate myself to reducing the stigma around mental health, educating others about wellness and fostering a community of positivity, support and acceptance. At McGill, I help lead these changes through my residence hall council, the McGill Students’ Chapter of Jack.org and the Students in Mind executive committee. I’m an ambassador for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and a certified Jack Talks speaker who has spoken publicly about mental health both at events and to media. When I’m not advocating, studying or organizing events, I can be found bullet journaling, playing the ukulele and singing along to Disney movies.

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Name: David

About me: I’m a grade 10 student at Newmarket High School. I’m always looking for ways to spread awareness about mental health and well-being in my community. In my spare time, I enjoy playing baseball, listening to music and laughing spontaneously. This is my second year with the NYC and I’m looking forward to another impactful year!

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Name: Jahmar

About me: Hello, my name is Jahmar. I’m 18 years old and live in Scarborough. I graduated high school last year and I’m taking an additional year to get into my desired post-secondary program in engineering. I was previously the president of my school’s largest club and I’ve taken on many leadership positions with my school. Outside of school, I have a passion for track and field. This will be my third year as a part of the NYC. I find pleasure in being able to help others and learn about different people. The NYC helps me expand my emotional intelligence and also makes me feel like I’m making a difference and like I’m not alone.

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Name: Kate

About me: I’m a student in my final year of high school. I’ve experienced many challenges with mental health over the past few years. I work hard to maintain a healthy balance of academics, co-curriculars and hobbies, but I admit that it can sometimes be difficult, even though I’m undoubtedly passionate about my commitments. I love helping and supporting others, but I often neglect to do the same for myself. I’ve learned the significance of self-care and I strongly advocate for it! In my free time, you can find me volunteering in my neighbourhood, camping with my Scouts group, reading, writing or browsing for new music. Through the NYC, I aspire to inspire others to break the stigma surrounding mental health and improve the accessibility of mental health resources for youth across Canada.

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Name: Katie

About me: Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, I’m now in my first year at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In high school, I was an advocate for youth wellness and organized events at school and in the community to improve access to mental health support for students and peers. Currently studying psychology and the humanities, I volunteer with local mental health organizations (including Kids Help Phone) and women’s empowerment groups. In my spare time, I enjoy writing poetry, acting and riding my bike.

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Name: Kieran

About me: From as young as age eight, wherein I organized my own fundraiser, I’ve always considered myself an advocate for a multitude of topics. One of my biggest passions in advocacy is mental health. I aim to create awareness and acceptance for the struggles many Canadians, including myself, face every day of their lives. Having been a service user of Kids Help Phone in the past, and the sole fundraiser in all of Nunavut for the organization for several years in a row, it holds a special place in my heart. Knowing the difficulties many young people can face on a daily basis, I see how important it is that youth have a resource. Through my participation in the NYC, my goal is to make sure Kids Help Phone is the best and most accessible it can possibly be, and to play my part in shaping a future where no young person has to struggle alone.

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Name: Mehul

About me: I’m a first-year student at the University of Calgary who has always been passionate about creating opportunities for young people across Canada while tearing down barriers that prevent this diverse group from achieving its goals. I know that building strong, safe and innovative communities requires empowering youth to be leaders and stakeholders in their cities. I’ve worked with leaders in government as well as the corporate and non-profit sectors across Canada to raise money for mental health research, create opportunities for youth career exploration and implement platforms for youth entrepreneurship and health research. As a part of the NYC, I hope to create resources to destigmatize conversations surrounding mental health and share stories of those dealing with these issues.

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Name: Nazanin

About me: Hello everyone! I’m Nazanin and this is my second year involved with the NYC. I’m excited to see the council grow and accomplish much greater things together this year. Mental health has always played an important role in my life due to my immigration to Canada. In the initial stages of grade five, my movement from Iran to Canada and the transition in both the culture and language took a while to adjust to. It required a great amount of mental and emotional strength. This experience caused me to value mental health immensely among youth, and to work hard to better their mental and emotional well-being by listening to them and taking larger actions with the councils in my city. I hope that in the coming year, I’ll be able to collaborate with other youth and give back to my community as well.

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Name: Phyllis

About me: Hi, I’m Phyllis and I’m a grade 12 student from Toronto. I’ve been involved with mental health initiatives at my school for multiple years now. We have planned fun activities with therapy dogs and lead assemblies trying to open the discussion about destigmatizing mental health. I realize the importance of mental health myself — I found out my friend had struggled, but I had no idea. This drove me to do something. I want to offer my views with this council and offer resources to those who need it. Outside of mental health initiatives, I love to play the piano, flute and guitar. I find music very therapeutic and volunteer by playing at a local hospital. The rest of my eclectic hobbies include writing poems, drawing and blogging my thoughts.

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Name: Zuhal

About me: I’m a grade nine student at St. Pius X High School. I’m a competitive dancer at KaliAndrews Dance Company and I enjoy playing volleyball during my free time. I’m a part of my school’s student council and am in charge of events. I’m very passionate about helping others and I love animals.

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Name: Laetitia

About me: I am a Grade 9 student at Burnaby North Secondary School, and even though I seem young I am not one to be underestimated. Mental health has always been so important to me, as I’ve seen so many loved ones struggle with their own mental health. I believe it is time for society to broaden their knowledge and acceptance toward mental health. With these beliefs in mind, it is with honour that I say this is my first year on the NYC. Alongside mental health, I am very invested in all types of humanitarian work, even opening the first “chapter” in Saskatchewan for a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a better education for students in Niger. Taking an initiative in my community has always been a priority for me. To unwind I love travelling, playing volleyball and hanging out with friends!

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Name: Harjot

About me: I am a Grade 12 student at Sullivan Heights Secondary School. My Kids Help Phone journey started when I first volunteered for one of their local events, the Walk so Kids Can Talk presented by BMO in 2017 in Surrey. When I started to realize the importance of youth mental health, I wanted to help make a difference in my school and in my community. My passion to bring change around the stigma of mental health brought me to Kids Help Phone’s NYC, where I have the opportunity of working with a very motivated team of young leaders. In my spare time, you can find me reading, volunteering, writing or travelling.

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Name: Haley

About me: I was born and raised in the Middle East, before moving to New Brunswick in my early teens. My non-traditional upbringing shaped my interests in public policy, youth leadership and mental health advocacy. These interests led me around the world to work with international social inclusion and child rights initiatives, before bringing me home to work in policy for a pan-Canadian youth mental health project. If dog/cat person was a spectrum, I would fall firmly on the dog side. I applied to the NYC hoping my skills and experiences could help support young leaders in challenging the way we think about and engage with youth mental health services.

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Name: Maxine

About me: Adopted from China by Quebecers, I have been raised in Montreal where I currently am finalizing my last year of high school in the French system. Mental health and well-being have always been close to my heart since I constantly strive for a healthy balance of community involvement, academics, extracurriculars and sports. I consider my Canadian life to be a blessing, thus, I am truly passionate about giving back to others by providing free extracurricular activities to kids of a public elementary school in my local town. As I have been training to trek Everest Base Camp in October and November 2018, I have launched a fundraiser to finance educational tools for the kids of Siddhi Ganesh Public Elementary School in Kathmandu. I believe education is definitely a solution to increase happiness as it unlocks one’s doors and broadens one’s opportunities to find purpose and meaning.

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Name: Hailey

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Name: River