Approximately 25-30 local youth assembled into the North York Civic Centre to attend a youth advocacy workshop coordinated by the Canadian Cancer Society. Nicole McInerney, Senior Coordinator (public issues), set up a room full of literature, props, placards and some hip music. The purpose was to inspire meaningful dialogue about important issues concerning cancer. From 11am till noon the youth workshop consisted of a broad presentation on how youth can become advocates of change. Before the workshop began it became evident that they were already aware of the need to stand up against cancer related issues and were inspired to speak about and take action on what matters. A large part of the workshop focused on what they called “Who, why, how” and mentoring youth how to talk to elected officials, such as MPP’s, in order to inspire change in policy concerning cancer.
After the workshop, the youth were invited to the 6 tables set up which covered issues such as candy flavoured tobacco/cigarillos (#endtheflavour), smoke free movies (#smokefreemovies), indoor tanning (#tanbedban), toxic pollution (#radon), and a volunteer table. According to the group, Canadians may be exposed to these concerns on a daily basis without realizing the issues may be preventable.
What became clear at the workshop was the need for increased awareness of these challenges and how we, as a society, can stand up against them. The youth were definitely passionate in joining fellow advocates in the fight against cancer, sparking conversation with each other about how to organize within the community in order to meet with and educate government officials with these concerns.
The event may sound rather sombre, but the room was full of positive energy. The passion from the youth was palpable as they raised the awareness of their fellow advocates, promoting the issues that matter to them. It was inspiring to see these youth stand up against something that touches the lives of their loved ones and so many Canadians.