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Youth speakers go online to help young people struggling during pandemic
TORONTO -- A Greater Toronto Area charity that normally sends youth speakers to schools to talk about life struggles and mental health coping skills has started a podcast to continue their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each week, Youth Speak Performance Charity is uploading a new episode of Real Speak Podcast. The episodes are interviews hosted by young people with young people overcoming some of the most difficult circumstances.
Each one features a different young person and covers a different theme — self-love, acceptance, multiculturalism.
As a teenager, Lolita Richards dealt with an abusive situation and first became homeless at 13.
“Until you find that true self love within yourself, you can’t love anyone else and use your voice. There’s power within your voice and if there’s something wrong, if you’re going through something, tell somebody because that’s ultimately how to find the help you need,” Richards told CTV News Toronto.
The 30-year-old has her own baking business and is a public speaker, as well as a facilitator with Youth Speak.
Twenty-two-year-old Michael Aretusi started experiencing crushing depression in his teens and said he had to find a way to live with it.
“This pandemic is not easy for me either, so knowing what I’ve been through I have hope. I know I’ll be able to get through anything in the future,” he said.
Founder Una Wright lost two sons in her blended family. Gavin died in a crash at 19. Kyle died by suicide at 31.
Wright said sharing a personal story is powerful when the person learning it can relate.
“And when you can relate a learning to your own life, that prompts change,” she said.