Helping others comes naturally for 17-year-old Veronica Chan.
Chan was awarded the Ontario Junior Citizen (OJC) award for creating a platform for youth to have a voice. Last year, Chan created an event called “Espresso-Self,” an open-mic night for students at her school to express their feelings through a safe platform. From social justice issues to stories of their own, Chan said students came to the event to voice their experiences and support others in the school community.
“What inspired me to create this event was when a couple of friends shared their story with me about their battle against their mental illnesses. It really shocked me and opened my eyes because you always hear about people having mental illnesses, but no one really talks about it. It’s so close to home, so I realized that it’s important to have this avenue of expression for students.”
In the future, Chan said she is planning on starting an organization to raise awareness and bring discussion to mental health.
Chan is also currently the co-chair of the Unionville Youth Council. Some past events she has coordinated include leadership conferences and weekly volunteer events at the Union Villa Long-Term Care for older adults.
Photo: Veronica Chan receives OJC award from Lieutenant-Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell.