Lauren is one of our 2017 Canadian Youth Ambassadors and is from Truro, Nova Scotia. Her idea focuses on helping seniors in her community develop computer literacy skills and use social media to keep in touch with their families. This past spring, she travelled with Youth Ambassadors from every province and territory to England, Belgium and France and met with the High Commissioner for Canada to the UK. She later met with MPs and Senators in Ottawa to discuss her ideas and gain further support. Here are her thoughts about the program.
We all have that one thing we’re terrified of. For me, that was applying for the Canadian Youth Ambassador Program. My mom nagged me for weeks, urging me to apply, “this is made for you, Lauren. Please, for me, just apply!”, but I was afraid of travelling with people I didn’t know and I was afraid of the commitment. I felt like once I committed to an idea, I’d have to get it done quickly and do it perfectly. I felt major pressure. However, looking back, I can honestly say that applying was the best decision of my life.
This program is jam packed with life changing experiences and lessons. The trip allowed me to experience 3 different countries I had never been to [United Kingdom, Belgium, and France], the gift of true human connection, peers from every corner of Canada, and the feeling that someone is rooting for you to succeed. The connections I made with the leaders and youth on the trip were absolutely mind blowing. On the second part of the trip, I was brought to tears at the astounding feeling of simply having someone who believed in me. The trip leaders were tired, exhausted, and dealing with all of the youth ambassador’s questions and problems, yet they weren’t complaining. They were doing it because they believed in us with all of their hearts, and they believed in the change we wanted to make. I can’t tell you how unreal it feels to have a stranger do so much for you simply because they believe in you. Even now, months after the trip has finished, I can still overwhelming feel the love and family from all of the leaders and fellow ambassadors who simply believed in me.
Not only did this trip give me a sense of family and trust, but it also helped the plans for my One Idea. I had every one of my questions answered. One of the most beneficial mentors I spoke with was the mentor I was personally paired with, Laurie Hazzard – Education Officer at the Ontario Ministry of Education. She was a professional in the same field as my One Idea, so she had lots of contacts and useful information that was relevant to my plans. Not only that, but she emailed me a week after the trip, reminding me that she was always there if I had any questions or needed guidance. Not only was that helpful, but all of the other mentors I was paired with, like MP Karen Vecchio, also answered all of my questions, and set me up with contacts that were useful to me. You could tell that each one of the mentors were invested and interested in furthering our ideas, and wanted to help us create change in our communities.
This entire trip produced a feeling of gratitude for all of those who gave their time and energy to helping me further my future plans and goals. There really is nothing like it. I have never experienced such a profound sense of gratitude, and an awakening sense of initiative to achieve absolutely anything I set my mind to.
Whether you feel like your idea is too big to tackle, or your idea is only a tiny voice in your head, please apply for the Canadian Youth Ambassador Program. You will not only acquire all of the tools you need to make an idea become a reality, but you will join a community of like-minded youth from across the country to learn from and connect with, as well as meet a group of adults who will truly change your life. Don’t be afraid: just apply!
Inspired to learn more about the Canadian Youth Ambassador Program? Read about how you can get your students involved here!