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Meet Twelve Canadian Women Who Are Helping to Make YWCA’s Day of Big Change a Success

A couple of weeks ago, we put out a call on Twitter and Facebook asking Shedoesthecity readers to help us make the YWCA’s Day of Big Change a huge success. The enthusiastic responses we received really wowed us. A ton of young women contacted us, and here are a dozen who shared their action plans for March 1st. We admire them for their drive and passion and want to share with you the causes that are close to their hearts, and the cool ways they are planning on giving back to their community this Friday.

Maya Guerrero

Age: 23

Hometown: Born in the Dominican Republic but raised in Toronto

Cause close to her heart: Sexually abused women

Why she wants to help this cause: 1 in 4 women in North America have been sexually abused, and I find that appalling and unacceptable.

Action plan for March 1st: Volunteer with the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre / Multicultural Women Against Rape

Nora Jenkins

Age: 26

Cause close to her heart: Helping people forge healthy, authentic relationships with their bodies and sexuality.

Why she wants to help this cause: I believe that the way bodies and sexuality are viewed in society leads us away from the kind of self confidence that inspires us to do great things.

Action plan for March 1: Along with my sex-positive collective, I’d Tap That, I’ll be offering a free nude Body Pride workshop (for a maximum of 10 women, who have not yet attended Body Pride) on the evening of March 1 (This is normally priced at $40.) Relax with a glass of wine and talk about body image, self-love and much more – all in the buff, in a supportive female environment!

Interested? Email idtapthat.inquiries@gmail.com to reserve your spot. Find out more info here.

Nasma Ahmed

Age: 17

Hometown: Scarborough

Cause close to heart: Homelessness in the city of Toronto

Why she wants to help: I feel in such a diverse city such as Toronto we shouldn’t allow our fellow citizens to fall through the cracks especially teenagers.

Plan of action: Getting my school educated about homelessness in Toronto. I also want to have a drive to collect toiletries that can be donated.

Zoe Shapiro

Age: 27

Hometown: Toronto

Cause close to her heart: The Elderly (Not so much a cause as a rocking demo!)

Why she wants to help this cause: In a general respect-your-elders vein, I think this is a group that deserves more appreciation and thoughtfulness than they perhaps receive. My grandparents never lived in Toronto so I haven’t been called on to be patient or generous with my time to someone living in a nursing home that could maybe use some company. I’d really like to learn those things and give some awesome old folks my time; reading buddy, chess buddy, skydiving buddy, gossip buddy…

Action plan for March 1st: I have a meeting/reference check booked at a neighbourhood nursing home after which I’ll be eligible for the companionship program.

Andrea Iseman

Age: 29

Hometown: Toronto

Cause close to her heart: Community Outreach

Why she wants to help this cause: I grew up in a single parent household and struggled a lot throughout my life. What I have learned most is that life is only what you make of it. My life has grown and become much richer through the experiences I have had, including volunteering and learning with my peers. Giving back to my community is very rewarding!

Action plan for March 1st: I will be prepping for the monthly meeting in support of the charity I am a part of – The Yellow Rose Project. Every year we have a Senior Prom, where we bring young professionals together with Holocaust survivors for an intergenerational celebration of life. The prom is crucial to providing our community with first-hand accounts of the Holocaust and giving others the chance to engage with their peers and elders.

Raya T. Shearer

Age: 27

Hometown: Bulgarian-bred, embracing life in Toronto

Cause close to her heart: Literacy

Why she wants to help this cause: Because every young woman, no matter her path in life, deserves the right to recognize the message in a good book, the complexity of her own imagination and reasoning, and the beauty of passing acquired wisdom onto others.

Action plan for March 1st: Literature for Life supports marginalized women through offering reading circles and helping them realize that they are their child’s first teacher of all of life’s important tools. On March 1st, I plan to donate to Literature for Life to help support their cause and potentially volunteer my skills to one of their departments.

Carli Stephens-Rothman

Age: 25

Hometown: Winnipeg

Cause close to her heart: Keeping my community clean and green.

Why she wants to help this cause: Every morning I walk to and from my office. Doesn’t matter if it’s snowing, or raining, or sunny. Much of my walk takes place in Trinity Bellwoods park. It’s my little (not so secret) short cut. I go through from Crawford to Queen, because it cuts down my walk by a precious three minutes. Bellwoods is such a beautiful space, whether it’s blanketed in snow, or fallen leaves, or bathed in sunshine in the summer. But, some people don’t know how to treat a park. Some people are just plain rude. All too often, especially when the snow begins to melt, there is garbage, and litter, and broken glass laying around. It’s not safe for children and pets, and it’s terrible for the environment. It’s also disgusting to look at…

Action plan for March 1st: Because everyone knows there’s power in numbers, on March 1st, all of my female co-workers from Community Agency (we’re talkin, like, 30 lovely ladies) are going to come with me, equipped with garbage bags, and rubber gloves, and spend a few hours out of our work day (boss approved) picking up bottles, and papers, and even dog sh*t if necessary. Everyone shares my disappointment in the sad state of Bellwoods, and everyone is really excited to help do their part. Hopefully, we’ll make it a monthly event, and maybe even invite the boys in April.

Portia Favro

Age: 23

Hometown: Kelowna, BC but now living in Toronto

Cause close to her heart: Dance/movement therapy for children with special needs

Why she wants to help this cause: Between dance classes at a local studio last year, I was asked to jump in to substitute a special needs dance/movement therapy class at a high school. Seeing the joy these students had with movement – whether they had mental or physical disabilities, proved to me how valuable dance is. It was a release for them, and helped expand and harness various skills.

Action plan for March 1st: I am currently working towards teaching a volunteer up a dance/movement therapy class for children with special needs through the City of Toronto, Bloorview Kids Rehab or another like-minded organization (Fingers crossed!)

Yvonne Ng

Age: 26

Hometown: Toronto

Cause close to her heart: Education for young girls & women in developing countries

Why she wants to help this cause: I’m a firm believer in education as a form of emancipation, particularly for young girls and women in developing countries who are often treated as second class citizens and are not afforded the same basic rights as their male counterparts. I believe that educating, and therefore empowering, young girls and women is a crucial first step in beginning to solve a host of other issues, from poverty and gender-based violence to sex trafficking and maternal mortality.

Action plan for March 1st: I am going to host a screening of a PBS documentary “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”, which is a film and national broadcast event inspired by the widely acclaimed book of the same name by one of my favourite authors/columnists, Nicholas Kristof, and his wife Sheryl WuDunn. In advance of the screening, I will be reaching out to my network of friends and family to ask for a small donation, which will go toward <;a href="CARE Canada.

Carshae Beals

Age: 23

Hometown: London Ontario, currently in Toronto

Cause close to her heart: Teen Mothers that are homeless

Why she wants to help this cause: There are more then enough responsibilities that come with raising a child and raising a child alone, but it’s even harder to do that job properly when you don’t have a place to sleep or food to eat.

Action plan for March 1: There are programs at the YWCA that cater to teaching teen mothers how to care for their children. Also they help these mothers by giving them supplies they might need. On March 1st I will start planning to put on an event that will raise money and awareness for teen mothers, so we can continue to help out this cause.

Lauriana Mandody

Age: 30

Hometown: Toronto

Cause close to her heart: Poverty and women’s rights

Why she wants to help this cause: I am a woman of colour. I was born in the Middle East, grew up in South Asia and immigrated to Canada. I could have been born into a multitude of horrific situations we see in those commercials garnering donations but I was lucky enough/blessed enough/something enough to be born into this amazing life. I could have been a victim of many of those senseless crimes we hear of on the news but I am blessed enough to now live in a country where I am (mostly) safe and equal. But we have a long way to go – even in Canada racialised women are some of the most marginalised. I advocate on behalf of women of colour in Canada and around the world so we can all have the life we want regardless of what we look like or where we are from. To borrow Rosemary Brown’s words “We must open the doors and we must see to it they remain open, so that others can pass through.” because “until all of us have made it, none of us have made it.”

Action plan for March 1st: I am proud to be representing Women’s Health in Women’s Hands (WHIWH.com) at the United Nations 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in NYC.

Alysha Bordin

Age: 19

Hometown: Brampton, ON

Cause close to her heart: Education for girls & women globally

Why she wants to help this cause: I’m a student a public relations student at Algonquin College and I am currently doing an internship in Toronto with the G(irls)20 Summit. This organization has helped me open my eyes to different difficulties that girls and women face all over the world. When we look at it as a whole, it seems that education allows a women to become whoever she wants to be, but not all countries allow these women to obtain any sort of education because of their cultures and their beliefs I want to help this cause because every girl deserves a chance to be whoever she wants, regardless or age, races, and even gender.

Action plan for March 1st: I plan to develop a social media campaign that will focus on enlightening people all over the world of how important education really is. I plan to use mainly Twitter to get my point across by using hastags such as #EmpowerGirls #BeTheChange #HelpEducate, etc.

Do you want to get involved? There is still time! Check out YWCA’s Think Big/Start Small website and upload your inspiring action plan. (Pssst, you can win prizes!)

We will be tweeting throughout the day (March 1st!!) using #thinkbig and #dobc. Tweet us what you’re doing and we will share with our followers!

3 Comments

  1. Cathy Canton
    February 25, 2013

    this is great!

  2. nataleighb
    February 26, 2013

    @PortiaFavro @shedoesthecity amazing !

  3. PortiaFavro
    February 26, 2013

    @nataleighb Thanks love! See you tonight!

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