The Story Behind The Stories

The life of YouthSpeak began 17 years ago through the personal hardships of YouthSpeak’s Founder, Una Wright who has experienced the many faces of mental illness and addiction within her family. In amongst years of challenges, Una and her husband have lost two children.

These experiences have lead to overwhelming feelings of sadness, loss, fear, powerlessness, judgement, and guilt.  But they have also planted seeds for hope, understanding, resilience, inspiration, faith and more faith…and of course, the making of YouthSpeak.

Their son, Gavin was one of the first youth speakers to join the team, although for only a brief period before his untimely death in a weather-related car accident on his 19th birthday. Una recalls proudly standing on stage with Gavin as he shared his story of low self-esteem, feeling depressed and making unhealthy choices, and of course, his words of wisdom for the teen audiences.

Ten years and two months after the passing of Gavin, their son Kyle took his own life. This loss was a very raw and real reminder about the importance of the work of YouthSpeak, and provided even greater motivation to expand the reach to many youth who are struggling.

When a youth is going through challenges in mental health, bullying or addiction, a personal connection to someone who shares their story and a message of hope, helps them to feel less alone. This can make a life-saving difference in a young persons life.