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“I want to make people smile, I want to make people feel good.”

June 22, 2021

Rashme Nanda, 17, is a volunteer at the SCHC hub in a child and youth health program. She joined through the MYSL (Mind & Spirit Youth Leadership) group. She wants to make changes for her community and encourage people to have more empathy.

Hi, my name is Rashme Nanda, and I’m a volunteer here at the Hub in a child and youth health program. I always feel like a family here, and everyone is welcoming that every time I want more of it. It’s amazing that you start with strangers, and then they become your family.

What led you to come here in the first place?

I started coming to SCHC for the MSYL (Mind & Spirit Youth Leadership) group. It was an amazing experience. There’s just that sense of security and safety once you’re in a room with people that aren’t going to judge you. You always feel welcomed here and just progressing with people that you start off as strangers with, and then you kind of become family. I love staying here at the hub, and even my WiFi connects automatically now!

What is your family’s reaction to you spending so much time here?

They love it but not a big fan of it because I’m not home so often. They love that I’ve changed so much where I can kind of be myself more openly around people. When I first started, I was a very introverted person that I wouldn’t talk to anybody. This place has helped me be more myself outside my home.

Who do you think is your greatest mentor?

My greatest mentor would be Charanjit. I was a very introverted person when I first started here, and Charanjit helped me overcome many difficulties. I was the person who would never speak up for anything. If somebody asked me, hey, do you want to do this? I’d be like, Yeah, I’d barely make any noise. Now I’m here talking to you, and it took three years to get where I am. It took a lot of work and persistence. He made me try different things and pushed me outside of my boundaries. He encouraged me the most to initiate things, and that’s what I look for in a mentor.

Have you ever witnessed a change in someone here?

I remember we were having recruitment for our youth MYSL, and once the recruitments came in, there were a bunch of people that I didn’t know. I saw this boy walk through the door, who I’ve been friends with since third grade. I haven’t seen him in so long, and I was excited. They’ve always been the person who is like the class clown, never involved in what’s going on at the moment. I’ve watched them grow as a person and take on responsibilities, they normally wouldn’t take on and step up to the plate for a lot of things that they usually wouldn’t step up to.

Was there a moment in your life where you decided, this is who you’re going to be?

I guess it wasn’t just one moment, it was a lot of things that added up to where I am. I want to make people smile, and I want to make people feel good. I want to work with people to make sure that I’ve done something for our community. It makes me feel great that I’m making the change. I realized that I have the power to bring change to my community so that they can have different things that I didn’t have before. There’s much more passion in the work that I do now.

According to you, what is the difference between empathy and sympathy?

Sympathy, for me, it’s like I’m pitying someone, and that’s the opposite of what I want to do. There’s a moment where I took pity on one of my friends and their situation, and I realized I can’t do anything for them with pity. It doesn’t make them feel great, and I can’t do anything productive with it. But having empathy, kind of putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes, knowing what they feel like, trying to change things for them the way they wanted them to change.

I had a conversation with someone at school with one of my classmates. We’re sitting in the lecture hall, and there was a moment where they’re like, nobody listens. I asked What do you mean? They said nobody really listens to anybody. They just kind of Listen, to respond, not to listen to understand. That hit me like a tonne of bricks. It is important for people to just listen to someone to understand them better.

To learn more about the SCHC Health & Wellness – Children & Youth programs visit here. For youth interested in joining MSYL (Mind & Spirit Youth Leadership) please email msyleadership@schcontario.ca or call (416)-642-9445 ext. 4473.