Between the senseless acts of violence, seemingly endless series of natural disasters and the hardships of every day life, there never seems to be an end to the number of individuals who need help. Kind Karma's founding mission was to help youth who have stumbled upon hard times and one of the most popular questions we get asked is "why youth?" For most of us, the awkwardness of our teenage years is something we will never forget – not only were we trying to juggle new responsibilities, determine our identity, what kind of adult we wanted to be and careers we wished to pursue, we were simultaneously dealing with the sometimes awkward physical changes that came along with transitioning into an adult. As if that weren’t a task in itself, the very idea of not having a safe space to grow up in only makes the transition harder.
Most of the youth we meet do not necessarily create the circumstances in which they find themselves and their current hardships cannot hide or diminish the inherent potential they possess. For most of these youth, sometimes all they require is one person to believe in them, one person to give them encouragement and to empower them with the right tools. Sometimes, all they need is a boost of confidence to help them take the first step towards their goals and positive futures. The following story, featured this past summer in The Toronto Star, illustrates all of these facts and perfectly answers the question "why youth?"
Constable Niran Jeyansen was called to a Walmart store in north Toronto this past summer when an 18-year-old teenager attempted to steal a shirt, tie and some socks from the store. The teen was taken aside for questioning and it was learned that the teen’s father had fallen ill and he wished to help provide for his family. The clothes he allegedly took were for a job interview in the service industry which he hoped to secure to help out with family finances. Instead of charging the teen, Constable Jeyansen purchased the outfit for the teen because he saw that “this person wanted a chance at life.”
The teen landed the job and began work the following Monday.
This story demonstrates the power of a helping hand and the change a single act of kindness can create. Many of the teens whom we may quickly judge as having an untrustworthy or objectionable lifestyle are in situations not because of choices they made but because they could not stay in their current situations. Many have stories that you would cringe to hear from toxic domestic environments to parents and relatives refusing to allow them expression of their identity. But they are not lost. They are not hopeless and it is what we do at this critical point in their lives that will determine whether they are able to establish a positive future for themselves or follow the path into a life of unfulfilled goals and ambitions.
We may not have the power to immediately change the entire world, but we can always start by helping individuals around us. You never know how far the ripple effect can take a simple act of kindness and transform it into an ultimate change for an entire community.
Original article featured in this post was published on August 8, 2017 by the Toronto Star and can be found here.