Passion for Social Change and Innovation

May 14 2014

EYPC 2014Four nominated youth-led project and four SparKW winners ready to take action: BeYOUtiful, Spread the Love, Hugs for Hygiene and The Music Room. The incredible flow of ideas and energy proved again that youth are concerned with social issues. At 6 table talks held on May 13 at EPYC 2014 about poverty, the participants were unanimous that poverty elimination has to be a priority for both the education system and the governments.

And more so, we together, people of all ages need to make it a priority. "Poverty and homelessness have negative images associated with them and it has to change." The best way to change it is to be a part of programs and initiatives that support low-income people and to keep sharing personal stories with peers about those life changing experiences. Social media moves too fast sometimes, and face-to-face relationship building is the best way to tell stories: campaigns and assemblies in schools, courses and subjects addressing poverty in our communities, schools and community organizations working closer together.

Many thoughtful suggestions were discussed including the importance of youth being the ones talking to other youth and less formal long term learning that can be achieved through direct involvement; simple programs like Breakfast Clubs where kids can mingle and start conversations about poverty that are meaningful to them. Youth are more open to difference and we should start talking about the impact of poverty and about solutions much earlier:

- poverty in our communities needs to be talked about in schools before poverty in other parts of the world
- youth need to have role models working in collaboration to eliminate poverty, public, non-profit and business
- youth have to be encouraged to work on solutions in their own ways

All the organizers, youth and adults, have created something wonderful for everyone in Kitchener-Waterloo, as positive as the sticky notes we all received last night. Mine read "Smile, You are Loved!" Somehow, all the hugs and the beautiful people I have met, are more than a promise that a renewal of our social contract is in the making.

Aleksandra Petrovic Graonic
Community Planning and Development Lead