I live in Kinkora and attend KRHS. I am currently in grade eleven and will be turning seventeen this summer. I am the second youngest child in a family of seven children and I also have four younger nephews. Family has always been a really important part of my life, and growing up in a large family group has allowed me to see first-hand some of the challenges and rewards that youth on PEI may experience.
At the current time I am working as a volunteer at Venture Stables as working with horses and animals has always been my passion. I also enjoying working with the students at Venture and was able to recently work as a mentor and leader at their March Break camp. Prior to that, I completed my co-op placement there and also had an opportunity to work with the home-schooled kids and other students who attended Venture on a weekly basis. This led me to make the decision that after I complete high school I hope to apply to Holland College to attend the Child and Youth Care Worker diploma program.
I have good friends at high school who are in foster care. This has really opened my eyes to what it may be like for kids who don’t come from a stable home environment. I am known at school as someone who is trustworthy and who is a good listener and kids at school and the barn come to talk to me on a regular basis.
In addition to this, I have friends who have identified themselves as either transgendered or lesbian and I feel very comfortable being able to spend time with them without being able to totally relate to their personal experiences. I think it may sometimes be hard for them to feel accepted by everyone within society, especially when they are trying to figure things out for themselves, but I think they automatically know I am nonjudgmental and accepting of differences.
This may also be from my own personal experience as someone who has dyslexia. The typical school system which is based so closely on reading to learn and showing what you know through writing it is challenging for someone with dyslexia. Some of my siblings also have dyslexia so learning challenges are a struggle that I feel very connected to.
Furthermore, I have witnessed substance abuse and know how devastating this can be to children and their parents. I also believe that this is a big problem on PEI today. Related to this is my experience with the criminal justice system, supporting a youth who had engagement with law enforcement. I have learned about the connections between learning disabilities, mental health and addictions and how this often leads to trouble with the law. I would bet that many of the youth involved with the youth justice system today also have undiagnosed learning challenges and may suffer from problems with mental health and addictions.
On the brighter side, I get excited about volunteering and community involvement and have always participated in community events here in Kinkora. I am hoping to put my name forward in the next municipal election since I think it’s really important for youth to have a voice in municipal government as well. I have attended Council meetings for years and have gained knowledge about how meetings run, how decisions are made, and how important it is to stand up for what you believe in.
Finally, I have also had the opportunity to volunteer with Big Brothers, Big Sisters and feel that my sense of empathy and ways of reading people have helped me get along with the student that I was paired up with. I hope that what I have learned as a BBBS volunteer would also be useful for the Child and Youth Advocacy Committee of the PEI Office of the Child and Youth Advocate.