UNA, Founder / Team Coach

"To seek out, notice and give a voice to the beauty, strength and potential that is often less obvious…

When I first decided to start YouthSpeak, because of the many struggles we faced within my own family, my son Gavin loved the idea and wanted to be a part of this endeavour. He was one of our first youth speakers sharing his story and lessons learned. A year later Gavin died on his 19th birthday in a weather-related car accident – July 18th, 2004. He will forever be known, loved and respected for his gift of encouraging others to be themselves. His beautiful positive energy lives on in this program. Ten years and two months later my son, Kyle took his own life. He struggled with bipolar disorder for many years. Giving value and meaning to the challenges we go through is a founding principal behind this work – it brings to light the strengths that are often unseen and empowers people to create a new path.

JOANNE, Team Leader / Speaker

“I grew up having everything I ever wanted and needed but I lacked in one area of my life and that was my self-confidence…

Over the years I developed this hole which I tried to fill with everything I could get my hands on, no exceptions. Only to find later that the only thing that was going to fill my hole was love for myself. This took me 23 years to learn and I am still learning it. Now today it’s not about the things that I have but who I have in my life and the most important person is me.

FRANK, Youth Trainer / Speaker

“Growing up with ADHD and a writing disability, I was told I wouldn’t be able to accomplish much, let alone graduate high school…

In my life, I’ve done more than that and proved to myself and others that the power within is a strong force. Struggling with some bullying (from peers and teachers), as well as trauma in my later years in University, I know that with help, anyone can get through anything. We just need the support. I was always the first to try and fix everyone else’s problems but the last to try and fix myself. In my eyes, I just didn’t matter that much


BRENDAN, Speaker

"The obstacle is the path…

Growing up with divorced parents and living with other family members, I felt as though I did not live up to expectations put on me. When I was young, some very close to me died by suicide which affected me greatly. Not feeling as though I could turn to many supports I eventually turned to substance to find solace. For a long period of time I developed negative coping mechanisms and could not face the wake I was creating around me for friends and family. Continuously making uniformed decisions my life was not getting any better and I decided to make a change for the better. Today, I am sober and help others to gain their own true potential. I now understand that rather than avoiding obstacles you need to go through them. The obstacle is the path.

BERNICE, Speaker

“We all have our own unique individual soul stories. Learning that you are a survivor never a victim of your circumstances is only the beginning of understanding the power of your own authenticity...

Growing up my life was nothing but ordinary. Being bullied for many years required me to learn how to build myself back up. It required me to find my voice again and realize that I could overcome being assaulted, bullied, abused and just generally always feeling different. A daily struggle for me is my anxiety and my need to please others before I please myself. Growing up my parents never really nurtured my confidence. For many years, I felt lost and unimportant. Every day I need to apply positive reinforcements into my routines because without them it’s easy for me to get distracted. Everyday I’m learning to appreciate myself for all that I am, all that I have overcome and all that I know I can be.



"I Choose to be unstoppable, I choose to do the impossible, I choose to love myself and life. I am bigger than my worries and my strife. I am strong enough to power through, and all I want you to know is so are you.

After years of struggling with anxiety and depression and fighting my way through to a happy lifestyle, I can finally talk about it. My mission now is to educate youth on the topic of mental health. It is my passion to advocate on the importance of mental health education, communication, prevention and teaching youth to take control and uphold a positive personal perspective on their selves and life. I am inspired by the strength and determination of people and if I can start a conversation on this difficult topic to help influence someone to find those qualities within themselves, I am delighted.


“Be yourself and not who others want you to be…

I went through high school all alone with no one beside me, it took a lot of courage and confidence to walk through the halls with my head held high. Some days were worse than others but I knew I had to be strong. I was bullied in every way; cyber, verbal, harassed, name called, vandalism, etc… With this happening in my life it made me more confident in myself and made me realize that who I am is who I am going to be and I am not going to let anyone push me around. I am now a stronger and much more confident person!

COLE, Speaker

“Keep going, someone out there needs you...

Growing up, I always hated how I looked. I had low self-esteem, negative ways of coping and I later came to realize that I am part of the LGBT+ community. Things for me while I grew up were never easy. I never thought I’d see the day where I graduated from high school, but I did. Having gone through the issues I faced within myself and family, it made me realize that I can handle anything that comes my way. I am currently working on recovering from negative coping skills, transitioning into a male and creating a positive attitude and environment. Making the decision to move forward and better my life was a hard move to make but it changed my outlook on life a better view.

DAVID, Speaker

“At the end of the day, it's you who has to live with yourself, so it’s important to be happy with who you are…

I was never completely sure about my identity and once I reached a certain age, I started to experience depression and anxiety because of it. This lead to me isolating myself and using negative coping tools as attempts to feel better. It took a lot of persistence and difficult conversations to be at the point that I am today, and because of it I learned that I need to make sure I'm always happy with the person I am. Realizing this and taking the steps I needed to feel more comfortable and happy with myself made me significantly more confident, successful and self-aware. Building a proper support system also greatly contributed to my success. Today, I continuing to work on putting my mental well-being before anything and figuring out what kinds of things do and don't help me. Life is a journey of falling down and getting back up and I am learning to embrace that.

DEANNA, Speaker

"Whatever life gives you, even if it hurts you, always to be gentle with yourself… 

My battle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) began during my first year in university. I was overwhelmed with the new academic demands and began to obsess over projects and exams, and study every single day. You could say that I was motivated and driven, but is there such a thing as working too hard? I received excellent grades and annual scholarships, and was noticed by my professors. Despite all of my achievements, I was not satisfied. I drowned in my unrealistic expectations. Who was I trying to please? My mom, my dad? Not quite. I wanted to achieve greatness so that I could accept myself. My anxiety about school began to fester into other areas of my life...I am still working on fighting the negative voice in my head, but today I have much more love and acceptance.

Eileen, Speaker

“Let’s work together to build a more open and accepting community and give everyone a chance to speak their truth…

I remember Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.” I used to have a lot of trouble believing that I was or will ever be beautiful. I used to be a wallflower trying to disappear in the crowd and hoping no one would see or find me. But on the inside, I wanted to be more than this: I wanted to be great and beautiful. After tackling years of depression and anxiety, I can now walk out the door and not only smile at my beauty, but also that of others. I am here to tell the truth and help others embrace their inner greatness and love.

MATT, Speaker

"I was always told to “be myself”. It’s a difficult thing to embrace yourself for who you are when you have no idea who you are…

After a past of verbal and cyber bullying, I started to see myself as what others defined me as. I developed anxiety and perfectionism and it led me to have low confidence. Everything I did had to meet my high expectations or I would feel depressed or anxious. This mindset affected my creative hobbies. Over time, I have accepted that I am always learning and have become excited to follow a path towards a positive life. I still have ups and downs, but I know that I am the only one who can define my success, and reach my goals one milestone at a time!


“I am a strong believer in reaching out; asking for help until you find someone who can…

I am a survivor of child hood sexual abuse and at the age of 16 I lost 100% of my vision. I struggled with mental illness and was victim of bullying due to my vision impairment. I believe that our struggles in life don’t have to bring us down but rather help us become stronger people.

ROXIE, Speaker

“Always remembering that in time, this too shall pass…

I spent a large portion of my life staring at the floor, not having the confidence to look up, being too afraid of falling on my face by the obstacles in front of me to change. Living with mental illness throughout my life taught me about the other side of things, that living with an illness does not make me any less than. Having been bullied for so many years I was unable to stand on my two feet without living in constant fear. I was ridden with anxiety and panic while doing the most basic things. I resorted to negative coping skills that caused me to rethink my whole perspective on life. Having these issues helped me realize my potential emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. I am finally able to be who I want to be, live the life that I have dreamed of.

WILL, Speaker

"Today, I am a living example that change IS possible. And today, each and every single person in this world, can do the exact same thing…

Never in my craziest childhood nightmare would i ever see myself living the way I did at 17 years old; but it was my choices that got me there. Each unhealthy choice I made, resulted in each consequence I had to face- declining down a path into a lifestyle I never even knew existed. Lucky enough to survive that wreckage, twice, what I have learned is- in life, I make mistakes and there may be times I go down. There may even be times I go way down, right to the bottom. However, it doesn’t matter how far I go down or even if I do go down. What does matter is I keep moving forward. No matter what. If I’m not moving forward, I’m moving backwards. Today, and I say today because that is all I have, I can proudly say, I am making the right choice in moving forward in my life. Today, I am making the most of a second chance. Today, I have learned from my mistakes and have taken them to heart as learning lessons.


KASIA, Social Media Coordinator
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  • Met criteria to become a youth speaker
  • Presented at a minimum of 10 speaking engagements and/or reached over 4000 students, teachers, parents and other adult allies
  • Presented at an additional 10 speaking engagements and/or reached 5000 students, teachers, parents, and other adult allies
  • Prepared written speech including key messages of self-acceptance, respect and responsibility, building resilience and increase in empathy
  • Co-facilitated a minimum of 3 YouthSpeak programs
  • Leads and has facilitated a minimum of 3 YouthSpeak programs
  • Has engaged in formal evaluation
  • 20 hour of volunteer work experience within YouthSpeak per year
  • 20 hour of volunteer work experience with in YouthSpeak per year
  • Participated in initial orientation and training sessions
  • 6 Speaker training meetings per year
  • 6 Speaker training meetings per year
  • Committed to working on yearly goals
  • Committed to working on yearly goals
  • Committed to working on yearly goals
  • Completed Vulnerable Sector ScreeningSafeTALK trained

Training Youth speakers training includes leadership and speaking skills, SafeTalk, and various self-regulation tools such as Brain Fitness (keep the link), Mindfulness, Emotional Freedom Technique.


If you know someone or are someone who may a have a personal story and message to share with other youth, please contact us for more information: Una, Team Coach

Interested In Becoming A Youth Speaker

Speaker Application


Our volunteers are a valued and integral part of the organization. Current volunteer opportunities include:

Board of Directors

Event planning

Marketing/social media support

Student hours at events

Administrative support

Sharing special skills with team of youth speakers


Volunteer Application 

If you would like to chat more about volunteering with YouthSpeak, please contact Una Wright at 905-967-0604 or