“Was it even real? I talked to Ben Mulroney!” exclaimed Lilli, a YSM participant and one of six youth who had the opportunity to meet with and learn from Canadian broadcaster and celebrity Ben Mulroney.
Lilli discovered YSM while living in a shelter. Initially, she came for the food and health services, but upon hearing about the employment programs offered she was eager to start working towards her life goals.
Elevation in Opportunities Fund is a pre-employment training program that supports youth who self-identify with mental health challenges or a learning disability. The program helps youth prepare for, obtain, and maintain employment with the support of counselling, care management, and job coaching. The OF-Elevation Program is “one of the best employment services programs I’ve seen, they actually walk with you through everything,” said Lilli.
Enter Ben Mulroney! For YSM’s 125th Anniversary we’ve been inviting Toronto residents to GIVE 6IX of anything to make a difference in someone’s life. Upon being invited, Ben jumped onboard and offered a 60-minute session to 6 youth in YSM’s OF-Elevation Program.
Lilli was thrilled to be included, “Honestly, I was kind of in awe the whole time. I’m talking to this big-deal person and he made us feel really comfortable, almost like he was one of us. But you could tell that he was on a completely different level – so smooth, put together, efficient and also hilarious!”
A highlight for Lilli was when, “he said that being on stage, facing all the people out there, he’s like a mixture of being their vanilla ice cream and a metronome. And then his daughter, in the background, was like, ‘but people take offence to vanilla ice cream.’ It was the funniest thing ever!
“On a more like serious note, what I took from the session was that he uses his weaknesses and turns them into strengths. For me, I have these butterflies when I go out in front of people and it feels like something is coming over me and then I shut down – but Ben actually uses that feeling as his fuel. I never thought about it that way before.”
Ben Mulroney, co-anchor of Your Morning, announcing his GIVE 6IX on social media
When Lilli asked Ben about the workflow of Your Morning, the show on which he serves as co-anchor, he shared how all the people behind the scenes help him out, “It was like a switch – whoa, I can ask for help! I often try to do everything myself. I can just go out there and ask for help and have support – a team that’s willing and dedicated to partner with you.”
Lilli is a rapper and singer who plans to share her music with the world, “One day I am going to be a successful musician and I want to gain the skills to face the world. I’m still struggling with talking to people in public spaces and via streaming.” Lilli’s music comes from her life and experiences, “I hope people become open-minded and get past their prejudices. I just want to coexist, live in peace and have fun along the way. I have a passion for this dream because I’ve experienced a lot of hate for no reason. I walk down the street and people call me names or look at me weird, stopping in their tracks to watch me walk by. So I rap about it. It’s putting my real feelings and thoughts out there and being versatile with them. Being yourself in all the forms you take; when you’re mad or level-headed, when you’re prideful or at your lowest. I want to put all these aspects into my music.”
Lilli is now living in her own place while continuing her learning at YSM. “I’d recommend YSM to anybody. I’ve never seen people so passionate and genuine about what they do. What [YSM] is doing is sensational, very inspiring and it’s actually helping people. It literally got me in a better place. I’m living proof this is a great program.”
* Photo changed to protect privacy
For our 125th anniversary we’re inviting the city of Toronto to GIVE 6IX to “the Six” in any way, from anywhere, to help change the lives of neighbours struggling with poverty . . .
By joining the GIVE 6IX movement like Ben Mulroney, by giving or sharing whatever you have – wherever you are, community members like Lilli are able to build the confidence and skills needed to reach their goals.
What’s your 6IX? Learn more and get inspired at ysm.ca/GIVE6IX.