By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Nearly 450 youth from across Ontario joined together in Oshawa to discuss making a positive impact in their communitites.
Durham Regional Youth in Policing (YIP) hosted the 12th annual Ripple Effect Forum on July 18 at the Sikorski Hall.
YIP member Jasmine Singh says the forum focuses highly on “teamwork and perseverance.”
A number of guest speakers shared how they have dealt with some personal challenges.
Jesse LeBeau grew up on a small island in Alaska with no roads or stores and commuted to school every day on a boat.
Feeling there was no opportunity for him there, LeBeau set out to make his own way.
“Taking action completely changed the direction of my life,” he told the crowd.
Claiming he was born with the “body of a Hobbit,” LeBeau says his goal of becoming a basketball player faced ridicule due to his stature.
Practicing every chance he had, his hard work eventually paid off when he starred in a Foor Locker commercial.
This opportunity allowed him to find a career in the film and television industry as a street ball player, actor and stunt performer.
He largely credits his success to disregarding the negative opinions of those around him.
“I was constantly overlooked and underestimated,” LeBeau says. “Don’t make someone’s words a priority to you, when all you are to them is an option.”
Nav Bhatia, an Etobicoke car dealer and self-professed Toronto Raptors “superfan,” spoke on facing stereotyping and racism when he arrived in Canada in the 1980s.
He recalls being called a “Paki,” which puzzled him.
Before purchasing his own dealership, he worked his way up as salesman.
One particular day, a Caucasian man came into the dealership and told the owner he did not want to deal with Bhatia because of his background.
Undeterred, Bhatia says he did his best to serve the customer and eventually won him over, and they became friends.
He told the students they are unique in their own way, and he was proud to see their diverse backgrounds, because, to him, that is what makes Canada a great country.