Organic Leadership | The Dude with the Neon Blue Backpack

Last month, I was at that the Festival of Hope event at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario – and it was live! Thousands of young people from all over Canada came to get energized, inspired, and encouraged – not to mention to hear some great music from your boy Lecrea, Kari Jobe, and The City Harmonic!

When I entered the ACC, I began to look for an ideal seat in the stands to sit in for the night. Somewhere where I could be up high enough, to catch all the action, but close enough to the doors, just in case I needed to grab some food and go for a washroom break (you know the deal).

As I settled into my chair, my eyes caught something, or someone, intriguing. There was a guy dressed in cool clothes, wearing a fitted cap, a neon blue colored backpack, Jordan’s, you know – he had the whole look.

He was hanging out on the main floor, (where the Toronto Raptors or Maple Leafs play) bobbing his head to music the DJ was spinning from turntables over the PA system.
Yet, it wasn’t the blue back pack that caught my eye. No. It was the fact that he started to break dance – all by himself, in front of thousands of people, in the middle of the floor, at the Air Canada Centre. Brave, yet captivating. His dancing was so fluid that I became a fan instantly. But then something else happened.

One by one, other breakers, poppers, dancers, and artists started to crowd around, and soon there was a pit of young people showing off their talents and cheering each other on as they started to own the very event that they were invited to through dance. It was crazy.

Dance battles erupted. Hands clapped wildly. Beats increased steadily. It was Hip-Hop street culture heaven.

While everyone was wildin’ out, I also noticed something else. One girl, maybe 16 years old, started to teach her other friend how to break dance, step by step. Too shy to join the larger circle, they both decided to teach each other on the outskirts, while still paying attention to the lager details of the growing dance circle. It was amazing.

And to think: all this started because of the simple act of one brave teen who stepped out in faith, determined to influence and shape the space around him, and to bring his own fresh talents and skills to a larger stage. Priceless.

A month has passed, and my perspective on youth in action has still been impacted. I know that I may never meet the dude with the neon blue backpack, but I wonder how many other young people have been influenced by his one act of, well, awesomeness.

This has been a great reminder to me about the work we do through World Vision Youth and Student Engagement. It’s all about providing young people with a space to shape into their own world and to support them in owning what they are passionate about. To provide them with a platform to share their vision and rally others to join in on their collective movement – when the time is just right.

Our moto is “This is our time. Our World to shape, our future to create”, and what a fitting description to what was ultimately an influential moment in a crazy good evening.

If you’d like to start a movement, and inspire others, connect with us, shoot us an email at



I began my involvement with World Vision while I was a student at Gordon Graydon Memorial Secondary School in Mississauga. I started with the 30-Hour Famine as a participant and then went on to lead it for 2 years. My work has been covered by The Huffington Post as well as during the 30-Hour Famine National Webcast. In 2013 I became a World Vision Youth Ambassador and in 2014, I was honoured to speak at the WV headquarters about being a youth volunteer.

Why I care

As a youth, I may not have a lot of money to donate, but I do have a lot of time. And because I love helping others and want to make a difference in the world, I love using my time to affect change. It helps me grow my love of my community, the world and people.


I’m a 1st year student at the University of Toronto Mississauga and an active volunteer in my community. I’m the Vice-Chairperson of Mississauga’s Youth Advisory Committee, a camp leader and a lifeguard/swim instructor.

Personal Goals

I love to inspire and empower youth to make a difference in the world. We may be young, but we can stand up for what we believe in and have our voices heard.

Wear Your Support

Show everyone that you care about ending world hunger – and help raise money for my campaign. Buy a #GetHangry tshirt and all the proceeds will go towards my goal of raising $3,000.

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Road Diaries – Day 1

The World Vision Youth team is constantly stretching our bounds, breaking new ground and going to places we’ve never been before. If you haven’t heard yet, our super star fly McAwesome Brianna is on her way to Northern Ontario!

Track with her and stay up to date! We’ll provide updates every few days via Twitter!
If you’d like for her to come visit your school or group you can connect with her through email:

684kms – Toronto to Sault Ste Marie.

Lots of wind, lots of rain, lots of coffee, only one panic attack — the trip to the north begins!

I spent most of the day arguing with the wind shield wipers because they were unable to keep up with the monsoon inspired weather north of Barrie. I wasn’t thrilled, BUT was graced by gorgeous northern skies once I past the mill of Espanola.

Day two is about to start – coffee in one hand, a loaded iPhone in the other and the anticipation for another 8 hours of one lane highway driving!

Can’t wait to be back north and connect with Thunder Bay’s social justice champions tomorrow!

Planting seeds of justice

Written by: Leona (Student Leader – Alberta)
I remember when we sponsored our first child with World Vision. It was at a Christian event when they did a call to action at the end. I walked by the sponsorship table and a young Thai girl my age caught my eye. Her kind smile immediately told me “we can be friends”. And as a friend, I could not allow her to live without the basic human needs that I take so easily for granted. I knew I wanted to help her. Grateful for the next 12 years because my mother helped me provide the finances need to cover the sponsorship, but that was my first exposure to World Vision and the work they do to change lives all around the world.


Since I was young, my mother has planted a seed of justice in my heart. She would point out the right thing to do in situations. She made me return a stolen toy and apologize to the store owner even after we had returned home and I hadn’t been caught. She would teach me to stick up for people who were bullied at school—whether or not I had the courage to do it was another topic. I do not know when I became aware of this sense of justice in me, or even when I became fearless in stepping out and speaking out, but I can credit my mother and Father for watering that seed and never giving up on me.

After a 3 week trip to rural China, I became filled with this compassion for people and curiosity for the work of many non-profit organizations do to help people in developing countries. I was inspired by the sacrificial love of one person for the life and joy of someone else. Amazingly, just as I was organizing a 30 Hour Famine event with my youth group, the West Regional Coach at the time, Alexandra, contacted me telling me of this internship opportunity. I bubbled with excitement –what a great opportunity to work for one of the largest relief and development organization in the world! Even more amazing was that I was chosen to be a Provincial Leader for not one term, but two terms in a row! It was the perfect experience for me because I wanted to contribute to overseas development work but due to my commitment to University, I was stuck at home. Without leaving my schooling, family, and friends behind, I participated in changing lives of children, families, and entire communities. No other part time job I was looking at gave the same experience and circle of influence. I gain nothing but money punching in orders at a fast food restaurant or folding clothes at a retail store. While on the other hand, every hour doing work for World Vision was time and effort given to bring life and joy to people—and nothing was more worth my time.

Throughout this internship experience, I was given freedom to creatively impact my local community. It was an open work environment where you were free to share any ideas, confident that the people you work with share the same values and goals. Although we were all separated by provinces across Canada, we had a strong sense of team spirit because we were working together for children, for change, for life. The trust and kindness among co-workers are at a level I had never experienced before with previous jobs. Their encouragement was a boost every week. I built lasting friendships with the people I work with and with many awesome young justice advocates and famine leaders. I also received one on one care and mentorship from one of the most awesome, real, beautiful teacher in the world, my coach Alexandra. I am grateful to serve with a team full of passion and compassion, and to give with the resources that I have—however big or small. This internship was a big contributor to developing my skills and capabilities as a leader, and for watering the seed of justice in my heart.

At first, I thought it was all about how I can do this job well, but as the internship is coming to a close for me, I realized it has become more than a job. The things I did in this internship have already became part of my life and everything I do; my desire for social change grew so much. It opened my eyes to so many more injustices in the world, but I also witnessed all the compassionate people spending every second and energy in their day to work for change, inspiring me to do the same. I do not know where life will take me, but I will always carry a part of my World Vision experience wherever I go.

If you want to get involved and make a difference contact the youth team at World Vision: