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This Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending the Pillar Innovation Awards. For many people I spoke to, the awards seemed kind of like the “prom” of the non-profit community - the one chance a year everyone gives themselves a chance to dress up, eat fancy apps, and appreciate all the work being done. Having spent a few months in Pillar’s Innovation Works building, I was somewhat familiar with all the diverse and awesome non-profits that Pillar supports. However, I had no idea the London “ChangeMaker” community was so large! The room was packed - there were over 800 people there. It was really inspiring to see how many people were out there, actively working on or interested in social innovation. It was also pretty cool to see the videos for all the different nominees - lots of great work being done.
This was particularly inspiring for me as a “young person”. With all the awful stuff happening in the news lately, it was really helpful for me to see all the great stuff happening in the work world that I will soon be entering. There are so many people working to improve our community, and the difference those combined efforts make will be huge!
This led me to wonder if maybe, in the future, the Pillar Awards could become more accessible to youth. As a mindyourmind employee and a psych student, I am extremely lucky because I get to have a lot of opportunities other youth can’t, like conferences or discussions on mental health, or attending an event like the Pillar Awards! This is awesome, but I think that any and all young people could get a lot out of these experiences, regardless of their education or who they work for. Youth have great ideas and do great work. The Pillar Awards could inspire young people to help their community, provide hope in a time of many world issues, and even be used to highlight great work youth are doing!
A couple of things that could be done stood out to me to make the awards more youth friendly:
- Reduce the price, or provide tables/discount tables for organizations to bring youth. The tickets are pretty pricey, which is a barrier for youth and students.
- Provide an award to highlight youth ChangeMakers. For one of the awards, three people had been nominated, and one of them was quite young. It was awesome to see her nominated and she did awesome stuff, but it seemed pretty unfair to me that she had to compete with people who were older and therefore had more time to establish their careers, initiatives, and community profiles.
I think this would benefit both youth and organizations. Organizations could pass on the cool stuff they’re doing to youth, and potentially find some future volunteers or employees, or just inspire change. Young people would be more aware of the many positive things happening, and ways to get engaged! Highlighting youth ChangeMakers would also set a good example that anyone, regardless how old, can make real change.
Overall, it was a great experience, and I’m honored to have been a part of it! I hope to go again in future years and see more and more youth, both in the audience and on the stage being recognized.
Rachel began her mindyourmind placement as Marketing and Innovation Assistant this September, and could not be more excited! As a Psychology and Business student at the University of Waterloo, she is a proud mental health advocate, and passionate about helping connect mental health resources with those who need them. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, baking and going outdoors.
Find blogs with relevant and up-to-date info about mental health, society and other youth topics; written by a variety of youth and professional contributors.