Meet Kids Help Phone’s 2017-18 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.

Portait photo of Ben 

Name: Ben,
Chair

About me: I’m an entrepreneur, mental health advocate and post-secondary student from the heart of Canada. I’m enamoured with all things creative and innovative, and from an early age, I dedicated my life to giving back to the community and influencing the leaders of today and tomorrow.

Portait photo of Matthew 

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.

Portait photo of Julia 

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.

Portait photo of Chloe 

Name: Chloe

About me: I’m a first-year student at Western University and my Kids Help Phone journey began three years ago. Initially, I joined the Kids Help Phone club at my high school with very limited mental health knowledge. However, after taking part in activities held by my school’s club, I started to realize the importance of youth mental health and well-being and wanted to make a difference in my community. I later became the president of the club and have organized several events to raise both money and awareness. My passion for mental and emotional well-being brought me to the NYC 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, too.

Portait photo of David 

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!

Portait photo of Jahmar 

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.

Portait photo of Jessica 

Name: Jessica

About me: I always knew that I wanted to help within a community in any way that I could. Making a positive difference has always been one of my goals in life. With Kids Help Phone, I finally feel like I’m making that difference. I’m currently a student in college and I have first-hand experience on what it’s like to struggle with mental health. Kids Help Phone has helped me in many ways when I just needed somebody to talk to, so it’s a real honour to finally say that I’m a part of their very own NYC. In my spare time, I love producing videos, reading, promoting a positive impact on the environment and most importantly, helping others out. Together, we will end the stigma against mental health.

Portait photo of Kate 

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.

Portait photo of Katie 

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.

Portait photo of Kieran 

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.

Portait photo of Mehul 

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.

Portait photo of Nazanin 

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.

Portait photo of Phyllis 

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.

Portait photo of Zuhal 

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.