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Western Alumni Gazette, Marcia Steyaert

lisa huynh
Founder, It Starts With Her

In 2011, Lisa Huynh, BSc'10, Dip Not-for-Profit Mgmt'11, was named Canada's Next Top Young Philanthropist in the inaugural year of the competition.

Spearheaded by One Dreem and sponsored by Rogers, Changio and File Mobile, Canada's Next Top Young Philanthropist invites young people to submit ideas on how they could improve their community. From June to July 2011 individuals submitted their ideas online and the public voted for their favourite. The top 10 with the most votes advanced to the judging ceremony (Nov. 29) where finalists pitched their idea to a panel of judges: John Tory, Shoaib Khan, Ajay Virmani and Jerome Williams.

Huynh's winning idea It Starts With Her is a year-long after school group mentoring program promoting positive life choices for at-risk adolescent girls.

Schools participating in the program will nominate a group of eight at-risk adolescent girls to take part and each group will be paired with two female post-secondary students who act as mentors. Every week, the mentors will meet the girls for a 90-minute after-school session, each focusing on a different theme such as reproductive health, nutrition, world news, volunteerism, physical activity, job-hunting, etc. Through games, activities, cooking lessons, multimedia, journal writing and field trips, the girls will get a hands-on approach to learning. For instance, rather than showing them what a balanced meal should look like, the mentors will work with the girls to prepare & cook it. Rather than hearing how it’s important to give back to the community, the girls will organize a food drive or volunteer.

"Ultimately, the goal of It Starts With Her is to provide at-risk adolescent girls with the skills and resources that will help them realize their full potential, which can be anything from being the first person in their family to graduate high school, to becoming a musician, to avoiding teen pregnancy, to finding a full-time job, to pursuing post-secondary education," says Huynh.

As the winner of this competition, Huynh receives $10,000 and help from One Dreem to fund the development of It Starts With Her over the course of the new year.

Read the complete story: Western Alumni Gazette, Marcia Steyaert

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