International Youth Day (4) (1)

Around the world, women tend to be in poverty at greater rates than men. We are 8 days away from International Youth Day, we caught up with Leanne Predergast from Canada whose initiative “Love Our Lives” empowers young girls through mentorship and life skills

Leanne shared us the different initiatives that she has in place:

The different initiatives that I have in place range from a variety of programs and workshops which will help young women and girls everywhere to engage, restore and rebuild love for themselves and acceptance themselves. One of the initiatives we are working hard on getting into the school system is something called the A.R.T. Room. The A.R.T. Room stands for ‘Artistic Revolutionary Thinkers’ which encourages peer to peer mentorship among elementary and high school students. The A.R.T. Room brings an awareness of bullying in a revolutionary way through the use of art. This program is not only for girls and young women but for anyone who has experienced bullying or would like to bring awareness to the topic.

Another initiative that we are working on at Love Our Lives is S.I.S.T.A. (Supportive Intervention in Stopping Trauma within the Academy). This is a program to help young girls who start universities or colleges (many who are away from home) to understand safety issues and support. This initiative will work closely with the student’s union and the police in providing resources, welcome packages to new students and important information they need to know. It will also provide a help line number and brief counselling intervention to help girls and young women feel safe within the academy.

Over 30 000 people reached… 

So far Love Our Lives continues to impact the lives of many young girls (and boys) in the roadshows I have done in schools and local churches. Recently I spoke at a diversity conference for teachers and students, which had immense, positive feedback and an interest for me to speak further with staff and students. I have had the opportunity to speak to more than 30,000 people, sharing my story and giving hope to so many that it is possible to love yourself, make a difference and impact the lives of others in a positive and meaningful way. I have spoken on We-Day and presented on TED talk, which have help me to understand the global extent of bullying, however my most effective impact is the daily experiences I go through in life. I realise that every day I have cause to wake up to, and this cause of healing and restoring myself in order to restore others continues to be my greatest impact. In the next two years I would like to achieve ongoing and new partnerships with communities, schools, institutions and workplaces to go beyond bringing awareness to bullying, but to provide new innovative tools and methods to support those who have been bullied. I want to csreate ways of identifying people who are at risk and be able intervene early. Hence, I hope to implement the A.R.T. Room and the S.I.S.T.A. program on a grander scale within the next two years. I hope in the next two years to see a reduction of bullying within schools and post-secondary education facilities by simply evaluating people’s feedback who use LOL programs.

Her advice for young people and their role in the SDGs: 

I think that youth have a major role to play in achieving the 2030 SDGs. Young people are our present innovators and our future leaders. Young people play such an important role, bringing creativity, new ideas and an exciting perspective by what they do. Therefore, by youth understanding now how much impact they already have, it will allow them to play a more effective and proactive role in achieving the 2030s SDGs. My advice to young people would be just to do! It’s not guaranteed to be easy but if you are passionate about something, get on it and just work towards achieving your goal and you will be surprised by the doors that will open to help you!

Congratulations Leanne! 

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