Daniel is a first year student at Fleming College in the General Arts and Science University Transfer course who will be attending Trent University in the Honours Science program in Psychology next year. Currently, Daniel is the communications assistant for student council, a Student Life volunteer, a course representative and president of the club Project Cinderella Story (PCS) in Fleming.
Daniel’s campaign and charity project: Project Cinderella Story
Project Cinderella Story is a student-led project founded in April 2013 by Avery Cantello. After the death of her best friend, Amanda Todd, Avery began the project to advocate mental health awareness, suicide prevention and anti-bullying to other students, through the voice of fellow students. Our philosophy is that the best way for youth to connect to these issues is through the experience and image that only other students can give them. In October, 2013, Daniel saw Avery perform her song "Carnival of Souls" as a tribute to Amanda. Later that year in December, he joined Project Cinderella Story in hopes to be able to help Avery in her mission.
Accomplishments and Activities of Project Cinderella Story
Currently at the Fleming branch, Daniel’s team organizes multiple events to engage students to talk about their mental health. They have participated in 6 day-long events throughout the year which included anything from handing out free merchandise to stress relieving activities such as painting and group talks. They also have done multiple photo shoots, some of the bigger ones including Bell Let's Talk, as well as a collaboration with the company Wear Your Label. Their team consists of a network of students from all corners of the school. They are structured similar to a company and operate to get the best results out of everyone's individual abilities. They have also collaborated with other clubs such as the Social Justice Team and organizations such as Student Council. Daniel’s team’s efforts have engaged up to 350 students in one day.
What made Daniel want to get involved?
“Eight years ago I became victim to an online predator who utilized my naive personality to acquire a picture of me. At the time I didn't realize how severe this was all going to become, therefore I refrained from telling anyone. At that time, mental health and online harassment was rarely spoken about, especially not with men. I feared I would be scrutinized and called weak for the way I felt. I also had the impression that as a boy, I was to hold a certain "toughness" about me, and not show emotions. Following that incident, for the next two years I was haunted by similar situations, in a loop of looking for attention and fleeing from pain. Eventually I turned to more severe means of releasing my fear and began to harm myself. But once again, I was meant to "be a man", so how could I ever tell anyone how I felt? This cycle continued until I developed both depression and anxiety. So what changed?
Eventually, we come to a point where we either fight back, or let these things destroy us. I eventually hit the bottom of the barrel (so to speak), and decided it was time to push back. I sought help from a councillor who advised I start by taking better care of my physical health. So I slowly began to start running and eating healthier. I also lost a lot of weight and gained more confidence in myself and my body. Most importantly though I learned that people need to talk. If I felt like I could have talked maybe that wouldn't have happened to me. I hope to provide both common ground and inspiration for kids and young adults to also seek help. Our health is not something we should be ashamed of. 1/5 people might have a mental illness, but 5/5 have mental health, and we need to take care of it.
What are things I’ve done to deliver this message? Since joining Project Cinderella Story I have developed personal friendships and connections with multiple other organizations. I am an active blood donor and have donated 3 times since last October with the intent to continue. Also, I have used my photography skills multiple times to document events put on by Team 55 Tackles Suicide Awareness. These events included multiple fundraisers which have raised over 25000$ last year for training people about suicide prevention in the Peterborough community. I have volunteered in multiple Fleming events such as the Fall Open House, Big Brother/Big Sisters Day and almost all of the school dances. At these events I worked with students and younger children helping them feel comfortable in the school as well as providing an ear to listen to them if they needed support. Furthermore, because of my involvement with PCS, I was invited to attend Jack Summit 2015 which is a national meeting of 200 students who talk and create initiatives to change the mental health stigma. Students from every province in Canada were selected and brought to Toronto to brainstorm and network ideas about how we can change the country. Since Jack Summit, I have started a Facebook page called JackSpotted to document all the different places delegates have taken these ideas. Jack.org published blogs about both Project Cinderella Story and JackSpotted.” – Daniel S. Morris
Christine began advocacy work for mental health in 2011 by co-founding the international organization ‘Faces of Mental Illness’. Through this she has had the opportunity to speak in over 200 schools and community groups about why taking care of your mind is so important.
In the summer of 2013, Christine worked with Simon Fraser University to create a program called ‘HiFIVE’. This program focuses on raising awareness about mental health in university age students. It is now in six different universities across Canada, The United States, Mexico, and is launching in Dubai!
Through this, Christine has had the opportunity to work with many other organizations including the Jack Project, the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation, the Lions Gate Hospital Hope center, the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) campaign and many others! Her dedication to changing the way mental health is looked at is what makes her an inspiring youth!
Sam’s leadership started at a young age in sports. She played baseball, competitive soccer and hockey and always stood out as a leader on her teams.
In 2010 Sam started volunteering for the family business, RPM Hockey Company, helping out at Pro-D Day Hockey Tournaments, managing teams and organizing recreational activities. She volunteered as a Junior Instructor, assisting in teaching 3-5 year olds how to play hockey. In 2012 she was hired as an Instructor with RPM due to her commitment, positive attitude and strong leadership skills.
In 2012 when Amanda Todd took her own life, Sam wanted to do something to help stop bullying. With the help of her family, Sam started RPM’s Hockey Against Bullying Initiative raising funds for the Amanda Todd Legacy Foundation. Hockey Against Bullying started out selling t-shirts, jerseys and wristbands and has evolved to include cupcake sales and Sam’s most recent project, ‘Skate for Change’. In 2015 the funds raised are being split between the Amanda Todd Legacy Foundation and Garrett Stalker. Garett is a 14 year old hockey player from Vancouver Island diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment. His family is struggling financially and Sam decided it would be nice to assist another hockey family in need.
This year at Pitt Meadows Secondary, Sam is very proud to have started the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Club to give all students a safe place to hang-out, talk and get involved. She is also an active member of the Leadership and Free the Children programs.
In 2014/15 Sam has also joined the Pitt Meadows Youth Fire Academy. At Christmas time, the Pitt Meadows City Council challenged the Maple Ridge City Council to see who could collect the largest amount of non-perishable food and money for the Foodbank. Thanks to Sam and the Pitt Meadows Youth Fire Academy, Pitt Meadows won the challenge and Maple Ridge had to fly the Pitt Meadows flag for a day. Sam was given a standing ovation at the Pitt Meadows Fire Department Award ceremony in March for her work with Hockey Against Bullying.
Over the last few years Sam has gotten involved in as many different programs, events and projects as she could fit into her already busy schedule (in addition to school, working 2 jobs and sports).
· In November 2013 she was a finalist for the Better Business Torch Award for her work with Hockey Against Bullying
· In September 2013 she went to Ottawa for the Encounters Canada program –Sports and Fitness program
· In March 2014 she attended the Vancouver Art Institute Special Event Management program
· In July 2014 she went on a Humanitarian trip to Ecuador with We Day & Free the Children
Justin was bullied as a teenager after he revealed to a friend that he was gay. Instead of keeping the pain to himself, Justin created the Rise Against Bullying Campaign.
“When I came out at 13, it spread like wild fire. I told a friend, and that friend told someone else and it just spread.” Justin turned online for support and met other people that had been bullied for being different. “I liked seeing people out there in the world and they could express themselves (online) and it made me feel like I should use my own voice (to speak out against bullying.)”
His campaign later became a global advocate for showing kindness and doing outreach to all people needing and wanting to join him in sharing his messages and delivering them to those in need. His Facebook page, Rise Against Bullying, now has 35,000 likes and continues to grow in supporters.
Including encouraging and restoring hope and goodwill for anyone feeling sad and alone, he has especially been showing support to LGBT youth advocating that everyone should be supportive and accepting of each other. Because of his movement, Justin has received numerous letters and statements that his videos and messages have saved many lives.
In recognition of his efforts to raise awareness against bullying, Justin won the 2014 Inspire LGBTQ Youth of the Year Award, which honours people in the LGBTQ community in the Toronto Area. He also won a volunteer award from Pride Niagara.
In June 2014, the Niagara Regional Police awarded Justin with tickets to his idol Lady Gaga’s concert in appreciation for his efforts which came as a total surprise to the young advocate.
In March 2015, the local Fort Erie times newspaper has interviewed Justin about his fundraising efforts and his dedication and support for the Kids Help Phone. This May 2015, Justin joins hands with the Amanda Todd Legacy to bring more awareness about anti-bullying and to help fundraise for the counseling service available for free, 24/7, to Canadian youth.
According to the Fort Erie Times, Justin still battles with the pain caused from years of being bullied, but he remains focused on his anti-bullying campaign.
“I’m facing my fears and my anxiety. I’m a voice for those people who are silent,” Justin said.
“It’s the followers on Facebook, the kids who come up to me, and it’s the parents that stop me in the street that stop to talk to me. I don’t realize the impact I’ve made half the time, but they remind me of why I do what I do.”
Shirin became a published author at the age of 17 when she released her debut novel, Aegis Rising in November 2013. The novel reached No. 1 on Amazon Kindle's Young Adult Category and won multiple awards and recognition. It recently received a glowing review from Samuel F. Pickering, the English Professor who was the inspiration for the movie Dead Poets Society.
Her second novel was released in late March 2015 and reached #1 on Amazon's Hot New Release for Teen/YA.
Shirin is also the founder of Aegis League, a non-profit for youth empowerment. The purpose of this non-profit is to support youth living in places and conditions that deny them opportunities to grow. The mission of the organization is to provide life-skills training and micro-loan funding to help them launch small businesses in the communities where they reside. Partial proceeds from sales of the Aegis Series books go to this cause.
Aegis League also sponsors, supports and works with like-minded organizations with proven track-record in improving lives of youths everywhere. In particular, they are proud supporters of the former Streetkids International, now a part of Save the Children.’ whose exemplary and stellar achievements in this field has won global recognition.
After the Haiti earthquake, Aegis League came to join the many people who helped orphaned children. For their part, Aegis League donated a pop-corn machine and cash to help the children start their own little pop-corn business. The money they generate would be used to buy text-books and uniforms. These children are now being cared for by the Holy Seed foundation in the Caribbean.
Angel just turned thirteen and is an award-winning spoken word artist, actress and author of 2 children's books: ‘Ladybug, Ladybug Come Fly With Me’ and ‘Clouds’. Recently crowned Miss Teenage North Calgary, Angel was the youngest delegate.
She joined Miss Teenage North Calgary to continue her voice in the world because she knew that the pageant would allow her to have a platform to make a difference.
Angel has been on the Grammy ballot for two years now and is an ambassador for Calgary Reads. Angel reads books to elementary school children to promote literacy. She just completed her Hugs for Heart Campaign to raise awareness for health in February, where she recently donated $200, and was a presenter at a mini WE Day event where she received a recognition award for her call-to-action video ‘Today I Learned’. This video has received many nominations in several known festivals worldwide and has inspired many people around the world including celebrities Jim Carrey, Juliette Lewis and Yoko Ono. Angel also received an LA music award for her video ‘Strong’.
Last summer, two teenage girls, Anisha Cheema and Julianna Perkins, were marvelling at their newfound free time and the skills of Brandon Stanton, creator of Humans of New York, a multimedia platform that aims to spread the stories of New York's citizens through portrait photography and interviews. Never did they ever imagine that they too would run with this idea of community story-sharing and turn it into their own personal endeavour.
Nevertheless, it happened. They began as two anxious girls attempting to consolidate their shared passions of photography, conversation and exploration into one creative outlet, and now they run a full blog with original, self-generated content and a viewership of over 17,800 likes on their Facebook page.
When they started, Anisha and Julianna decided that their mission would be to use the power of social media as a device to connect people rather than to distance them, and that their goal would be to share and spread the unique stories of all citizens in their local community so as to inspire, empower and acknowledge those around them. Looking back on all that they’ve done, they are proud to say that through their own content and the interviews they’ve participated in (Vancity Buzz, CBC, Lotusland Magazine, eveRIAthing) they have managed to do just that; inspire those who come across their blog, empower those who otherwise would have no outlet for their stories, and acknowledge the lives of the many Vancouverites they encounter each day.
These founders of the Humans of Vancouver blog follow their passions to wherever they led them, and by doing so have not only inspired themselves to truly embrace risks and wholeheartedly explore their passions, but have also hopefully inspired their fellow Vancouverites to respect the unique life stories present in each and every one of them.