Photography by Janis Nicolay Image by: Photography by Janis Nicolay
Where she's from: North Vancouver, B.C.
Award: Free the Children, Youth
Contribution: Amilya devotes many hours to charitable causes both inside and outside of school. She launched a Mini Me to We Day at her own school.
Where would I like to be in 10 years: "I see myself just as involved with volunteer projects to address social inequity, and possibly using my health science degree to continue helping people in a professional capacity, possibly as a doctor."
Amilya Ladak describes how she was "brought up with the value of giving back to the community." Both her parents and grandparents have always been actively involved in volunteer work and, through osmosis, she learned that part of one's personhood is expending some effort to help others.
But mostly, she says, she finds giving back rewarding and fulfilling. When she was eight or nine, Amilya started collecting money for a local hospital in lieu of birthday gifts from friends and family. "I liked that feeling," says Amilya, who doesn't seem to look at her efforts as effort at all. She spent her lunch hours peer counselling and helping fellow students with homework and any other problems they were dealing with at the time, setting the school record for number of volunteer hours in Grade 7. "I didn't do it because I wanted to set the record. I wanted to spend my lunch hours doing something useful. I loved spending time with kids and helping them find solutions to their problems."
Amilya's problem-solving skills proved useful in organizing a Mini We Day at her Vancouver school last April. Long inspired by Me to We, she dreamed of putting on a student-run version, complete with motivational speakers and performers—the whole nine yards. One week before the event, ticket sales were low and the featured performer cancelled with little notice. Amilya and her team motivated each other to continue with the event, finding not one but two replacement singers. The event was a resounding success.
"I never saw myself as a leader until I became one," says Amilya, reflecting on her volunteer experiences. The ticket to overcoming her shyness, she says, was to always remember: "It's not about you. You're not doing this for yourself. What you're doing is much more important than what people might think about you."
Teenagers around the world: Are you listening?
For more inspirational pieces like Amilya's, check out our 2014 Me to We Awards.
|This story was originally titled "Amilya Ladak" in the October 2014 issue.
Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!