With six initiatives to focus on, L.I.G.H.T (Lead Inspire Grow Hope Transform) aims to create impactful change in the community. We hope to achieve this through numerous ways. Foremost, in order to assure that we’re addressing the needs of our community, a critical part to LIGHT’s mandate is that our events and programs are planned in full, from the original conception of the idea to the carrying out of the logistics, by youth members. These decisions are supported by adult mentors who guide us and ensure our success with their expertise. However, the youth are still the ones at the core of the decisions, taking on leadership roles. Moreover, much of our community outside the organization belongs to marginalized and/or racialized groups. For instance, youth aged 13 to 24 who identify as South Asian, Chinese, and African-Canadian represent the largest proportions of visible minority youth. Our members reflect this demographic, being part of racialized or marginalized groups as well and can thus understand the shared struggles and barriers in order to help one another overcome them.
This is critical to us for numerous reasons. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t reflect these ideals, in terms of creating equal opportunities for those facing challenge. Many of these youth who face barriers do not participate in youth activities, whether it be due to financial barriers or being underrepresented in leadership positions. This under representation leads to them believing that they are not suited to become leaders, only worsening the case. Likewise, because they are not being represented the issues they face may very likely not be addressed. In truth, racialized youth in Ontario have lower rates of employment and higher rates of poverty than the rest of the population. They also face risks of racial profiling and discrimination in their daily lives, which can lead to disengagement and distrust of public institutions. With our work we aim to highlight involvement of people coming from varying groups to change this narrative of exclusion and mistrust, reshaping who can be a leader and who is included in community decisions.