While doing research for a school project five years ago, Meera Chopra and Vishal Chopra came across an eye-opening statistic: each month, 236,600 children in Canada are forced to rely on food banks. To take action on this issue, the two leaders sold gently used toys to raise money to support their local food bank. In total, they raised $200, but they didn’t stop there. Motivated by the needs of their community around them, they co-founded Stronger Communities — a youth-run non-profit initiative whose mission is to unify communities by supporting local and global causes. Now in its fourth year, Stronger Communities has tripled its membership and donated over $10,000 to organizations in the Greater Toronto Area and across the globe. Meera and Vishal hope to inspire other youth in their community to take action about causes they are passionate about. What they learned through their experiences is that you’re never too young to make a difference. They are happy to have had the opportunity to break down age barriers in their own small way and actually show that youth can make a difference
One of our 2017 Peace Medal recipients, Stronger Communities is made up of a dozen passionate young philanthropists, representing ten schools across the Greater Toronto Area and is followed on social media by hundreds of people. Part of the organization’s mission is to plan food, clothing, and book drives for food banks, libraries, and other non-profits — including an orphanage in Sierra Leone. This year, Stronger Communities is sponsoring one young boys’ and one young girls’ soccer team in a small town in Sierra Leone, for children who would normally not be able to play the sport. One day, Meera and Vishal hope to travel to the town to see the soccer teams and have the chance to talk to the players about their experiences. Through its unique blend of volunteer causes, Stronger Communities has reached out well beyond the ways that were envisioned when the organization was founded.
Stronger Communities will be honoured at our Peace Medal Ceremony during YMCA Peace Week, November 18–25, 2017. Visit our website to learn more about how you can get involved.