Last Thursday March 5, 2015, I was honoured to have been asked to be the Beauty Ambassador/Mentor at the annual Rise Above event designed to empower, uplift and teach young women how to be the best they can be in all areas of their lives. Karen McKenzie is the woman behind this amazing organization; I Can Rise Above Inc. She had the vision years ago to do something that would empower and uplift young women. The event was held at the Toronto Police Services Headquarters, Ann Marie Henry, who is the Employment Unit Commander for Toronto Police Services, said some powerful words in her opening remarks for the day. “When you know who you are, it makes you strong. It gives you the opportunity to scale hurdles that life will present you. There will be a lot of hurdles as you move on in life. The important thing though is for you to feel strong about your identity and your culture. That’s incredibly vital and that is what today is also about. If you are feeling a bit lost, I hope you can find yourself today,” she said.
Rathika Sitsabaiesan, is a member of the House of Commons in Canada and represents Scarborough-Rouge River for the New Democratic Party. She is a woman who has accomplished amazing things and was the perfect representation for a woman overcoming the odds in a male-dominated field and have success. As the Host at the event, she spoke candidly to the young women about challenges and how to face them in order to succeed no matter what you do. ‘Make it Happen’ was this year’s focus for International Women’s Day and Rathika did a great job of focusing on the ideas of leadership and building character in order to make things happen in our lives. She also had the girls speaking a powerful statement of, “I am smart. I am beautiful. I am strong. Because I’m a woman.”
As a Beauty Ambassador and Mentor, my focus was to teach the girls about the value of true beauty, which comes from the inside. It’s about knowing how to embrace the beauty of your character and develop leadership skills that will take them a long way into their future. Using the Be-you-tiful Workbook designed by Karlyn Percil, we went through activities with the young women that allowed them to look within themselves to find their true beauty.
I shared personal stories about my journey that I hoped would inspire the young women to know they are not alone in some of the doubts they might feel from time to time. My goal was to help them understand the value of seeing that their strengths help to build them into the powerful women they are meant to become.
Overall it was a fantastic day and all the young women left feeling inspired, motivated and most of all beautiful not because of the outside, but because they learned to place value on everything they are on the inside.