In the eyes of some, today’s youth have a bad reputation. Rightly or wrongly, you can’t help but hear adults talk about “kids today.” You might have heard that videogames are making kids violent, Twitter is making them mean and rap music is turning them criminal.
Here at the Calgary Food Bank, we couldn’t feel more differently. Every day we see the generosity, dedication, and enthusiasm of our young community members. Just yesterday, March 18, we saw four incredible Grade 9 students advocate for the Calgary Food Bank at Samuel W. Shaw School in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI), talking about issues that most adults don’t even know are critical in our society.
Susanna, Paige, Alex and Muradil (shown above), all Grade 9 students from Samuel W. Shaw School, presented to a gymnasium full of students, teachers, judges and major leaders in the Calgary non-profit sector about why the Calgary Food Bank matters so much to their community, bringing some audience members (especially food bank representatives cheering them on in the crowd) to tears.
“Hunger is a real problem in our city,” Alex said in the presentation. “When my father came over here when I was a kid he didn’t know the language and had to work to support us. When our mother passed away, it was extra hard on him to provide for my brother and me — he needed support.”
The YPI initiative, first created in 2002 in Toronto, Ont., is a groundbreaking initiative aiming to engage young people in social change and empower them to participate in the growing of compassionate communities. Dozens of students participated, representing their choice of local charity. The best presentation from each school wins a $5,000 cheque to give to their chosen charity.
Our four students touched our hearts here at the Calgary Food Bank and we’ve been used to seeing their faces around the building for the last three months.
“It’s awesome to see youth so enthusiastic about supporting the community and social change,” said their Calgary Food Bank liaison Shandra Reynard. “We feel like proud moms!”
Their enthusiasm for our cause, their eagerness to volunteer and get involved and their dedication to helping their community inspired us and reminded us why we do this in the first place: For our clients, our neighbours, our friends and our collective Calgary family.
We are community owned, and thanks to individuals like our amazing Grade 9 students, we are community supported.
We want to thank Alex, Muradil, Susanna and Paige for volunteering their time packing hampers here at the Calgary Food Bank, bringing awareness to hunger in Calgary and spreading their caring and enthusiastic spirit with us. Though the judges didn’t pick them, they made it to the final round of presentations and were unmatched winners in our hearts. Our hands are still red from clapping!
Children and youth of any age are welcome to get involved with the Calgary Food Bank, either through volunteering or events. SeeVolunteer Opportunities for more information.
Learn more about YPI and how they’ve engaged hundreds of schools worldwide, across Canada, United States, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.