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 

SARA, Youth Trainer

“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. “

ROBBIE, Youth Trainer

“There is power in your voice, so let others hear what you have to say…Growing up, my childhood was just one traumatic event after another. From being overpowered by an adult, to losing both my parents, to constant bullying and struggling with depression and anxiety, my life was anything but sunshine and rainbows. But a good deed from people I didn’t even know helped me back into the light and gave me confidence to use my voice. Today, my goal is to give back to the community for motivating me and helping me through those tough times. By using my voice and sharing my experiences, this will motivate others to open up and use the power in their voice.”

MALLORY, Youth Trainer

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world”. –Anne Frank…Having the opportunity to interact with youth speakers and students, I have observed the power in sharing personal stories. As a registered social worker, this passage has always resonated as it reminds me that while life is full of challenges, life is also full of overcoming. Small moments can make big impacts. When I am able to connect with a student; let them know that I am an ear to listen, remind them someone out there gets you, I bear witness to the positivity these small gestures bring. YouthSpeak has provided me with the opportunity to spread optimism, practice using my voice and continue the conversation regarding the importance of mental health education for all.

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.

DANIE, Speaker

“I am who I am with all my faults and my mistake” - Rm (BTS)…I really connect with this message because in the beginning of it all, I hated that life was hard and I made so many mistakes constantly. I was a small town girl, feeling like I am really living in a lonely world with problems like depression, anxiety, and discovering my gender identity and my sexuality. I felt so alone all the time because my problems consumed me and I couldn’t tell anyone because I thought I would be a bother to the people around me. But when I start getting myself the help I needed, and a little help with a push from my loved ones who were concerned for me, I flourished! I now love myself with my gender fluidity, pansexuality, ADHD, depression and anxiety. It may cause challenges for me, but I have learned to get through it. I am now a small town human being, loving myself in every way possible.”

DAVE, Speaker

“Be your true self and seek your own approval and acceptance above anyone else’s…Growing up, I experienced a lot of negativity which prompted me to form negative views of myself and the world. While trying to find how I fit in and searching for acceptance from peers, I pursued substances which led me to feeling like I had to hide certain parts of myself or supress and push them away. This led to pushing loved ones away in the process, feeling very poorly about everything and coming very near to losing my life. I realized my vast reserves of personal strength, courage, and positivity when I committed to changing my reality into something I would be proud of and happy with. Today I work on continuing this positive self talk, self acceptance, and love towards others to keep myself looking up and towards a bright future. Always searching for acceptance outside of myself and being hurt in the process, it wasn’t until I started to accept and love myself that I overcame the negativity that I thought doomed me.”

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..

HAMI, Speaker

“When nothing goes Right, go Left…Life has taught me that humans are capable of overcoming anything that they put their mind into. I have gone through severe depression, suicidal thoughts and self-sabotage to someone I am proud of everyday. I’ve learnt that life is not black and white but rather black and blue just like day and night. This simple philosophy kept me going for years. My biggest secret to finding happiness has been watching nature and life as they all follow the same pattern of life. and now I’m here to share what I know with brothers and sisters that are going through similar storms. Storms are scary and dangerous but it is rain that brings life, it is wind that trims the trees and it is pressure that creates diamonds”

HIBBA, Speaker

"You have brains in your head, feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. " - Dr. Seuss

“Sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But if you keep going, eventually you'll reach it. A lot of events have transpired throughout my life that have shaped me into who I am today. Having gone through depression, anxiety, and psychosis, I have overcome many obstacles. There was a time in my life when I had no hope for my future. But after learning how to cope with it, I now know that whatever life throws at me, I'll get through it.”

KADE, Speaker

“I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned, through life’s disappointments and countless rewards, is the cruciality of knowing one’s self…The notion of seeing yourself as a best friend or an ally of sorts, is as difficult as it is worthwhile. In my experience, most of what makes life meaningful tends to be just that; Worthy of every ounce of struggle. Still, when I look at my past or pass my reflection in a coffee shop window, I thank my friends and loved ones for sticking by me through everything. That gratitude, in itself - is a brave step towards a life that makes us all proud, regardless of our differences.”

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.

RYAN, Speaker

“’The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.’ -Ralph Waldo Emerson. Growing up I was involved in a variety of sports such as AAA hockey and lacrosse. Unfortunately, not long after I got into high school I made some terrible choices and surrounded myself with the wrong people. Eventually I ended up addicted to opioids. My time of addiction also lead to the additional consequences of legal struggles. However, the good news is that I have turned my life around and I have made a commitment to change my life and to help others by sharing my story of hope, how making good choices is the key to avoiding the influence of others, and also how reaching out to someone for help can change your life.”

SHAWN, Speaker

“A smile can hide so many feelings, fear, sadness heartbreak, but it also shows one other thing strength…

After going through anxiety, in grade 4 being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and depression due to bullying i was afraid to talk to other about my feelings and wanting to drop out of school. Now I can say being thankful from all the support systems that i am currently am with, and having a very supportive family i feel more encouraged to talk to others about how I feel and even being an advocate for others who have intellectual disabilities i can now speak for others and show that you are capable to prove that your disability is more of an ability and apparently now when i meet other they say that i have such a contagious smile.”

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.”

TRISH, Speaker

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. - Bernard M. Baruch.

“I grew up in a small community which was great but everyone knew each other. So anything you did didn’t ever leave your side. Over the last 18 years, I’ve faced bullying, body image issues and been very anxiety prone and it happened by the same kids that I grew up with. It has taken a lot of courage to finally be able to be honest about my issues and about how kids who don’t think they’re saying something that hurts actually hurts more than they will ever know. As I began university I learned that there is more to friendship then having fake friends, being petty and rumours. Being apart of YouthSpeak has taught me that I’m not always going to be perfect but that there will be people around me that love me no matter what. Today, I’m working on empowering girls to do more than they ever dreamed and working on empowering students to realize that one word can change a person's life.”


Level One
Level Two
Level Three
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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