Launched in 2015 by the Foundation Fighting Blindness, the National Young Leaders Program saw a lot of growth in 2018. Designed to provide Canadian youth living with vision loss and blindness with mentorship and career-building opportunities, the Program is oriented around an in-person Summit—you can read more about this year’s Summit HERE—and is set to continue expanding in 2019.
Programming at this year’s Summit was spearheaded by two wonderful co-chairs, Shaini Saravanamuthu and Jack McCormick, who also conceptualized the Summit’s theme, “finding a rewarding career.” At a recent Vision Quest Symposium in Toronto, they took the stage to thank RBC Future Launch for sponsoring the Program, and to announce the co-chairs for next year.
One of next year’s co-chairs is Samantha Moore. Sam has an art and fashion background, and currently works for a performance theatre in Brampton. She is also a strong advocate for accessibility, pushing to have audio traffic signals installed in her neighbourhood and engaging in similar initiatives with Brampton’s Accessibility Advisory Committee. Her interest in events and in bringing people and communities together is an enormous asset for the Young Leaders Program.
Our other co-chair is Patrick Losier. Patrick recently completed his law degree (as well as his MBA) and is now articling in New Brunswick, where he lives. He’s been an advocate for the rights of students with disabilities, and has experience with student unions, government, and finances, all of which he plans to leverage for the Young Leaders Program. His familiarity with advocacy and stakeholder engagement positions him as a vital resource for a Program seeking to broaden its horizons and forge new partnerships.
Both Sam and Patrick are living with vision loss, as are Shaini and Jack, which is worth pointing out. They are clear examples of what too many people don’t understand: that vision loss is not a disability or a deficiency, that lacking sight is not tantamount to lacking drive, commitment, or perseverance—quite the opposite, in fact—and that it’s certainly not incompatible with success.
Vision loss does, however, present those living with it with unique challenges, and this is especially the case for youth in relation to careers. What Young Leaders has shown is that with resources, with access to networks, and with a sense of belonging and of community, nothing can stand in the way of this group of incredible people.
The Young Leaders Program will be in very good hands next year. We’ll have exciting news for you in the months to come.