At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we believe every child should have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential – both as individuals and citizens. We believe that by changing the course of young lives we can in turn be changing the course of a community’s future.
Start Talking is a place where we want to raise awareness of key issues that face today’s youth. We will sometimes advocate, sometimes educate, sometimes inform, sometimes ask questions and always invite discussion about the pressing concerns that involve the younger generations of today.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Blessing Bags"

In April 2013, I was lucky enough to be one of the 100 youths selected from across Canada to attend Big Brothers Big Sisters Social Innovators Youth Summit 2013. Upon arriving in Ottawa, I spent the week bonding with the 99 other astonishing youths, learning about their passions and the issues that were important to them. I was also able to take advantage of the many guest speakers and workshops that we attended, strengthening my leadership skills and working on my very own action plan. It was incredible to be immersed in this type of atmosphere and to hear others speak about their journeys and the plans that they had for not only their future, but for the future of others around them, were beyond inspiring. Being at the 2013 Youth Summit left me feeling extremely blessed because I now know that my generation is going to be the one that will change the world for the better.

As mentioned previously, while at the Youth Summit, we spent a large amount of our time working on our action plans, which were social innovation projects that were to be carried out back in our communities when we returned home. For me, I decided to work on a project called “Blessing Bags.” Growing up in Toronto, homelessness is really a large issue, but it is also an issue that is quite often swept under the rug. We pass people shivering in the cold almost on a daily basis, yet act as if no one stands there. So often we hear those around us say “never hand out money, you have no idea where it’ll be spent.” So instead, the idea of Blessing Bags were created. I had seen this project advertised on the internet before, on various blogging platforms, and I thought that it would be the perfect way to put to use the generous $100 grant given to me by MasterCard Canada.

Blessing bags are essentially large Ziploc bags that have been filled with items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, crackers, soap, Band-Aids, and notes of encouragements; small items that are meant to help someone get through a tough moment and remind someone who’s in need that someone else cares. This summer I spent my time collecting a variety of these items and assembling as many Blessing Bags as I could, with the help of my family and friends. In total I was able to create about 50 of these bags and my hope is that, when I return to Toronto from university during my winter break, to hand them out around the downtown core to those in need. Even though it’s been difficult to find the help I need in order to distribute all these bags during the holiday season, I’m hopeful that when I’m away in university I can find more people who are willing to lend a hand. One thing I definitely learned when I was at the Youth Summit is that, as long as you’re willing to reach out and ask for help, there will always be someone out there who will be ready to lend that helping hand. I’m excited to come back to Toronto in the winter and finish off my action plan. I really hope that by doing this one small act of kindness I can make a difference in the life of someone who really just needs to be reassured that someone out there cares, even if it’s in a small way.

Social Innovators Youth Summit 2013 Attendee


What is the most important thing your mentor did for you?

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