UNA, Founder / Executive Director

“My personal mission is to seek out, notice and give a voice to the beauty, strength and potential that is often less obvious… YouthSpeak was inspired by lived experience within my own family. My son, Gavin was one of our first youth speakers sharing his story during our inaugural year; until he died on his 19th birthday in a weather-related car accident – July 18th, 2004. Gavin will forever be known, loved and respected for his gift of encouraging others to be themselves. Ten years and two months later my eldest 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.”

We are now offering workplace Lunch ‘N Learns: Mental Health Self-Care and Youth Mental Health 

BRITTANY, Youth Trainer

"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.

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.

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.

DEAN, Speaker

"There's a power surging within all of us, what happens when we stop resisting and let it flow... It took me a long time to begin loving myself. My parents' divorce impacted my self-esteem and would hurt my relationships with others as an adult. I made a commitment that I would understand and overcome my inner challenges and that drives me forward to this day. I've learned that everyone can grow limitlessly as soon as we let go of imaginary barriers we put on ourselves. My goal is to help youth tap into their personal power and achieve what matters to them.”

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.

JULIE, Speaker

"Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around…

Throughout my life I have dealt with many highs and lows and expectations of what my life should look like. I have struggled with addictions, I have been labelled with a mental health diagnosis and I have had to over come a lot to get to where I am today. However, once I stopped comparing myself to others and started being kind to myself in all my complexity, this is when I saw the most dramatic change occur in my life. The most helpful thing for me today is to recognize that the things that I think are my imperfections are actually the things that make me perfectly me. Now I fully understand that the road to healing is not linear, it is never too late to ask for help and it is never to late to turn it all around.”

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.

SARA, Speaker

“I have accepted my past and am ambitiously looking forward to helping others understand that they can be who they want to be, and live the life they want to live. You are enough and will always be enough… Growing up was confusing for me. I struggled with a family life where addiction was present. I learned to bottle up my feelings and constantly strived for perfection. I never felt good enough and suffered with depression and anxiety most of my life. Years later I was using unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with my inner turmoil. After a friend died by suicide and a trauma in my early adult years happened I was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The ups and downs are still a struggle everyday but now I understand how to cope and what steps I need to take to be the best version of me. Living with a mental health condition will always affect my life but it does not have to define it. Learning to not compare myself to others and think positively has helped the most. “

SCOTT, Speaker

“I am not my thoughts. I am what I do”

I’ve struggled with depression and generalized anxiety disorder for just over a decade. There have been times where I’ve felt worthless and found it nearly impossible to find meaning and hope in the future. After finding the right support team and therapist, I realized how powerful our thoughts can be and that taking control of our thinking is a critical part of recovery. Today, I share my story with those in my community and around the world through social media to empower those who suffer from a mental illness.

TAISIA, Speaker

“Living with Borderline Personality Disorder has affected every single aspect of my life…The violent mood swings, the black-and-white thinking, and the constant suicidal ideation made every single day feel like a climb up a mountain. It’s something that will always be a part of me, but It’s taken me many years to learn that it does not have to define me. After a dangerous battle with drugs, homelessness, and self-harm, I’m finally able to live a fulfilling life despite my illness. Getting the right help has been life-changing for me. My past doesn’t define me. I was once a high-school dropout and an addict. I am now sober, a college graduate, and a university student. I am not my diagnosis.”

MALLORY, Social Work Student



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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, 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