There is more to the name Heart2Heart than a 70’s/80’s Dinner & Dance fundraiser being held on February 13th, 2016 at Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel & Suites, Richmond Hill. The name also carries a meaning that is larger than the timely Valentine’s on which our event is being held, although many attendees will make this event part of their Valentine’s celebrations.
Heart2Heart speaks to making a difference in the lives of others by sharing personal stories from the heart in order to reach the heart of others. This is the power in what YouthSpeak does – our youth speakers, through their courage and willingness to view their life challenges as opportunities to grow, pay-forward a message of hope and empowerment that is difficult to measure, but very moving to witness.
YouthSpeak was founded in 2003 and inspired by personal experience within my own family. When we give a meaning to our life challenges by using them to help others, it gives them purpose and helps facilitate healing. When we lost our son, Gavin in a weather-related car accident eleven years ago, there was no turning back in that moment, we could only go forward. Ten years later came the news about our eldest son, Kyle who had taken his own life. Kyle struggled with bipolar disorder and other mental health and addiction challenges for many years. Losing two of our children have been devastating circumstances amongst many we have faced and continue to live and breathe as a family every day.
To date, YouthSpeak have reached over 130,000 students, parents, teachers inspiring a message of hope and positive change through assemblies and workshops. Those of us who are parents of teens or young adult children may remember the seventies/eighties with fondness for what seemed to be a simpler time. We didn’t experience mental health challenges, bullying and addiction to the same extent as our youth today. Perhaps we even saw ourselves as more resilient than they seem to be, as their capacity to cope with stress hasn’t improved equal to the degree of pressure and stress they experience.
It is time for change, and that change comes with passion in our hearts, strength in our voices and a readiness to work together for those who will be the decision-makers in our future. Good work is being done to support youth and help them build resilience as they navigate their way through their world. But there is so much more to be done to decrease the prevalence and impact that mental health challenges, bullying and addiction are still having on them, their families and the community.
We hope you join us whether it’s to support a very worthy and relevant cause, celebrate Valentine’s, enjoy a lovely meal, live band, silent auction, nostalgic experience or all of the above!