As many of you are aware, in February I was diagnosed with grade 4 glioblastoma which is terminal brain cancer. On that day many things changed and like so many who have been given this diagnosis I have taken on this journey with serious contemplation about how to live the rest of my life.
What I have discerned is that notwithstanding the urgency to live as much life as possible, I see this path I am walking as a gift to realize the beauty of life itself. Each one of us is capable of contributing something to make a difference with our family, friends and in our community. Sometimes cynicism, isolation and fear hold us back from truly contributing and participating in making the world around us a better place.
Throughout my life I have been supported by so many beautiful people. My parents, my family, my wife Julia and my sons Nathaniel and Jordan. There was also the young people that I taught and the ones I worked with. I shared their hopes aspirations, and their dreams for a better world. Whether I met them in refugee camps or in classrooms right here in Ottawa, they all had one thing in common — an untapped resource to make fundamental and genuine change for a better world.
In these past few months I have been shaken to the core and found new determination to do more to support young people’s aspirations to think and act from where they sit.
To that end, along with friends and colleagues we have established Youth Action Now to support grassroots change driven by young people. It is a vision to respect and honour the future they will inherit and work in solidarity with them to make things happen.
When I was younger, I looked around the world and saw famine, poverty, pollution and conflict and thought kids could do a better job — they should rule the world! I still believe that young people should have a voice and a space to make a difference not just for their sakes but for all of us. Youth Action Now will promote young people’s civic participation and unleash their power by strengthening grassroots action and collective leadership. The focus will be on supporting projects that are conceived by young people themselves. We will work with young leaders to hone their skills, deepen their insight, expand their networks and build their confidence so they can model responsive, resilient leadership.
I am inviting you to join me in this exciting opportunity to unleash our most untapped natural resource — our young people. You can support this initiative by donating money, your time, ideas and energy.
A better world is possible. I believe in the power of the next generation of change leaders to get us there. I want to do my part in unleashing that power. I hope you’ll also be a part of it.