Guest Blog: Vital Youth Empowers Students

The Belmont Secondary Vital Youth group, including guest blogger Christine Camaso (back row, third from left), with Mary North and Niki Ottosen from the Victoria Dandelion Society and Craig Smith from the Help Fill a Dream Foundation.

 

Vital Youth participants from Oak Bay High School announce the recipients of their grants.

Philanthropy is a big word; it sounds like a convoluted political ideology or maybe an illness. In reality, philanthropy is being compassionate, caring, willing to lend a hand to those who need it most, and most importantly, it’s not nearly as difficult to participate in as it is to pronounce. Through the simple act of giving, we are able to do so much.

After three years of being a part of the Vital Youth program, I can say with full confidence that through being a philanthropist and being able to give back to my community, I feel empowered and valued as a young person. The program has allowed me to connect further with my community and really learn about the different ways in which Victoria is thriving, and the ways in which it is not. The many causes to care about within this city is overwhelming, but in the best way possible. I’ve learned about a number of diverse organizations working in this city to change it for the better and met many other like-minded youth along the way.

At the year-end Vital Youth event that took place April 24, bringing together students, teachers, grant recipients, and program supporters, I was able to connect with even more young philanthropists, hearing their experiences about the program and how they’ve chosen to allocate their grants. It’s so incredibly inspiring to be in a room full of people who all share the same passion to create the city we would like to see, and I am hopeful for the future knowing that I have such incredible peers all around me. Furthermore, being from Belmont and the Westshore area, it was interesting to see the different perspectives everyone shared over our city, and to hear about how other Vital Youth participants were giving back all over the Greater Victoria region. Learning about other organizations in Victoria, even ones I hadn’t heard of before, was engaging and eye-opening. It’s also especially heartwarming to hear about how much the Victoria Foundation supports the program, and how important youth are to them. The opportunity to be a part of the Vital Youth program is truly a privilege, and one that I am so lucky to have.

Belmont Secondary students enjoy some refreshments at the year-end Vital Youth celebration event.

I believe that the Vital Youth program was named thoughtfully. I cannot reiterate enough how much it means to me as a young person to have my voice heard and listened to, and to feel like I have as much significance to my community as anyone else. When you’re just a student dreaming to make an impact on the world one day, it’s easy to feel as if everything is bigger than you, and always will be. However, when you’re surrounded by other people with the same goal in mind, suddenly changing the world doesn’t seem so difficult.

Christine Camaso is a Grade 11 student at Belmont Secondary school and has been a participant in the Vital Youth program for the past three years.

Click here to learn more about the Vital Youth program.