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Halton Youth Speaks Up Interview

Haniya Kashif

Have you had enough of having your opinions and concerns belittled because you are too naïve or inexperienced? Halton Youth Speaks Up (HYSU) is a non-profit organization that promotes, advocates, or otherwise affiliates with youth empowerment and gives Halton's youth a platform to speak up about their passionate issues.

HYSU is a developmental movement started and led by the teens of Bishop Reding to nurture, support, and strengthen young leaders to take charge, speak up, and spread awareness. It is not just an organization, but an active movement of a young community of leaders banding together to grow, learn and empower one another to make a difference in their community. Through this movement, youth are encouraged to speak up about problems they think are essential; problems and issues the adults often dismiss when brought up. The platform this organization provides to the youth of Halton allows them to publish articles they wrote on essential issues. The team of HYSU realized how limited the young voices in our community are, which is why they decided it was time to take a stance. This organization is a safe, positive place where youth can explore their talents of writing while equipping themselves with the skill of speaking up about what they believe in for their future journey.

Suppose you are interested in writing an article about any issue in this world of ours today. In that case, you can go to the HYSU website link in their Instagram bio and apply to write one. There is no discrimination or bias when choosing people who can submit their articles and are free to write an article on any issue you are passionate about. The steps are simple. You have to submit a google form, and if they approve your article idea, you can start writing it. Article ideas can range from climate change, national issues, racism, female injustices to many others. They also already have some articles published. If you need any ideas or inspiration, you are welcome to read them and see how you can write your own.

I asked one of the founders, Ridam Panesar, a grade 11 Bishop Reding student, how she came up with this idea and her motivation to start this organization. Her reply was motivational and truthful "during the 2020 year, I realized how limited the young voices in my community were. Even when I did speak up, nothing would change because nobody would listen. That is when I decided it was time to take a stance. Many others and I had enough of having our opinions and concerns belittled because we are too ‘naïve’ or ‘inexperienced’. Me and a friend, Namita Mukherjee, decided to start a non-profit organization in which every young person in the Halton Region gets their chance to speak up."

In the future, Ridam shares that "we are hoping that this organization becomes big enough to reach every single person in the Halton region. We want everyone to feel included and get a chance to speak up. Being a youth myself, I know that we all have opinions and ideas about the world, but we have nowhere to talk about them. If Halton Youth Speaks Up reaches everyone in the Halton region, more opportunities can be given to these like-minded individuals." If you know anyone in Halton as well, tell them about this fantastic opportunity and start making a difference!

HYSU not only gives the youth a platform to speak up, but they also take action through events, workshops, and fundraisers for charities. Therefore, I asked them what other events they are hoping to achieve next to take action. "We recently hosted a Holiday Raffle Event that was extremely successful. We raised over 900$ for charities that help youth in need. Currently, we are planning multiple fun skills and awareness workshops for the Halton youth to participate in! Our upcoming event/workshop will be about spreading climate change awareness," Ridam shared. Stay tuned for their future events and initiatives. Participate in making a change and taking action for what you believe. That is what this organization is all about.

If you have any ideas of organizations you would like to start, there is no better way than to hear someone else's story on how they did it and how easy it is. I asked them how they started up the organization and what their first steps were. "Firstly, Namita and I started up the organization by making an official website and an Instagram page to easily reach youth across Halton. Then we started up Executive Team applications to grow our team and get started on some events. Once we had our executive team, our organization was official, and we began to do serious work."

Lastly, here is some advice from Ridam to anyone who has an idea and is struggling to make it a reality. "My advice is to go for it! Do not let anyone or anything stop you from wanting to make the world a better place. No matter how big or small your organization is, do not lose hope. There is always at least one person out there who will be positively impacted by your organization."

Follow their Instagram @haltonyouthspeaksup and check their website to get involved and speak up on issues you are passionate about.

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