The Power of Youth Leadership

By: Munira Al-Amudy, Thought Leader, Pandemic Recovery Plan, #ImpactCOVID



I never imagined how far I would go, taking on what I thought was just a simple student job.


My journey with the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity (CCYP) started back in October 2020, when a friend had shared a job posting with me. Part-time, flexible hours, great pay… every students' dream come true! After a unique and memorable group interview deliberating the contents of a Starbucks sponsorship to benefit a hypothetical community, I was happy to join the #ImpactCOVID team.


At the time I was settling into my final year of my Urban Planning degree and was becoming more intrigued by policy and research related work. Previously, I had worked for various non-profit organizations across Toronto creating or executing social programming for marginalized youth. The #ImpactCOVID project presented me with the perfect opportunity to combine both my experience and new interests, to support the creation of a youth-focused and youth-informed economic recovery plan.


It's no secret that youth were the hardest hit demographic by the pandemic. I, and most people I knew had lost opportunities due to COVID-19 and the future was not looking any brighter. We knew if we did not recover, and fast, there would be no possibility of ever digging ourselves out of this hole.


I had such an empowering experience working with the Pandemic Recovery Team. From research, to engagement, training, data analysis and report writing - we did it all! The technical and soft skills I have gained are invaluable. It would have been difficult for me to receive the same level of exposure working on any other research project. Typically, junior level employees are not given nearly as much control or responsibility on a project. I'm so thankful to have worked with an incredibly talented team and supportive managers.


Working on such a huge scale, there were nearly 100 different members of this project that were spread across the country - and the majority were youth. Even with so many moving parts, the unwavering confidence our managers had in us gave us the confidence we needed to accomplish everything to the utmost quality.


As a youth working with youth and for youth, I've learned that it is not that we lack the ability to accomplish things. It’s that those who are more senior than us, who have more experience, often don’t trust us. However, the constant changing circumstances our generation has grown up with, have made us an extraordinarily resilient and adaptive group of people. There is truly no task we cannot handle - it's just a matter of convincing those authority figures that we are reliable and capable.


The final products of the #ImpactCOVID projects are too great for words - you're just gonna have to read them for yourself. ;) Seeing my name on such a legit document that is being used to lobby for youth investment and influence policy is so surreal!


The most incredible moment to come out of this experience that really validated the impact of our work was getting invited to speak to Minister Bardish Chagger. I was given the chance to share the recommendations we formulated to one of the most influential people impacting youth and related policy in Canada!


This is the first of many conversations needed to really address the crushing effects COVID has had on the future of youth. With continued collaborative efforts between organizations such as CCYP and the government - we can recover, repair and revolutionize!


And what I know, is that the work we have accomplished so far is only the beginning. Now it's time for us to move into action. This means reading and sharing resources like the Youth Engagement Toolkit and the Pandemic Recovery Plan to stay up-to-date on issues, the best courses of action to address them and using this knowledge to contact your MPs to do something about it! Our voices can only be as loud as the actions that come as a result from it. So, LET'S GET TO WORK!