Shanel credits the Boys and Girls Club youth councils with her decision to study special event planning at George Brown College.
“The Ontario Youth Council is where I discovered that I loved planning,” says the 19-year-old member of Boys and Girls Club of East Scarborough and first-year college student. “It’s my passion!”
Shanel is a National Youth Council member and part of the committee planning the Council’s biennial forum, which is open to Boys and Girls Club youth from across Canada and is being held from May 6th to 10th in Winnipeg.
Inspired by the diversity of youth in Clubs across the country, the National Youth Council is calling this forum Fusion. The goal is for young people to explore and develop an understanding of the different cultures that make up Canada’s colourful, vibrant mosaic. The planners chose the keynote speaker—comedian, actor and writer Sabrina Jalees—for her underlying message about celebrating difference.
Shanel is excited to be facilitating a large workshop in Winnipeg that celebrates the vibrancy and variety of cultures in Canada. “What I like about being on the planning committee is seeing young people work together to make the conference a success.”
Shanel participates in monthly teleconferences to brainstorm the forum agenda and workshop topics, which cover a range of youth issues, from nutrition and health to sexual identity. She also attended OASIS, the 2013 national youth forum held in Kamloops, British Columbia.
As with this year’s forum, youth are able to travel from Clubs across Canada thanks to the WestJet Cares for Kids program, which is making a direct impact on the experiences of young people with its Gift of Flight. WestJet Cares for Kids has donated over 3,000 flights to Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada and our member Clubs since 2007.
“The fact that we get to fly for free is amazing,” says Shanel, “because otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to attend.”
Facilitating and planning large events like the biennial forum have only added fuel to Shanel’s planning fire.
“Planning is all about bringing people together,” she says. “The workshops and activities give you an opportunity to hang out with people that you might not ordinarily meet or who might not run in the same social circles as you.”
This encapsulates the experience for Shanel, who says the best part of the forum is meeting the other delegates.
“The goal,” she says, “is to have youth from across the country engage with each other, then return to their respective cities and make a positive impact in their communities and their Clubs.
“The young people are brilliant, strong-minded, and positive. It really feels like a meeting of world leaders!”