2020 Youth Leadership Award Winners Spotlight: Valerie Scantlebury, Toronto Young Changemaker

For Valerie, leadership is taking chances, even when you’re afraid.  

When Valerie started learning with DAREarts, she was facing extreme bullying at school and was struggling to find herself as so many voices in her life told her she didn’t fit. At 12, she experienced the devastating loss of a close family memberOverwhelmed and in coping with extreme grief, Valerie was faced with a choice – either let that crisis consume her or push herself to create a new path for herself. Digging deep, Valerie used her courage to start again.  

“I know what it’s like to make something from nothing. I’ve been bullied for being different than everyone else. I’ve had people tell me I couldn’t do something. I’ve worked to prove them wrong”. 

Valerie used her time at DAREarts to build her confidence and let herself open up to new people and experiences. Every time she let herself try something new, or trusted herself enough to share her voice, Valerie disproved every person who had labelled her not good enough or worthy enough to belong. She stepped past her fears and let others in, creating new friendships and support systems. 

“My time with DAREarts made me change how I think of life. It made me become a better leader at home, at school and in my community.” 

Valerie is committed to making sure other young people have the same support she did. Today, she uses the skills she built as a DAREarts student to help other young people facing similar struggles.   

“I help bring people together by uniting them around common interests. I accept others for who they are and show them compassion.”

She helps create community for younger kids at her former elementary school by leading art classesmaking it possible for others to find themselves and their voice through the arts.  

DAREarts is thrilled to recognize Valerie’s exemplary courage and commitment to others by naming her our Toronto 2020 Young Changemaker. 

This award is proudly presented by Northbridge Insurance.

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