My story: How passion + confidence can change lives, by Arissa Roy from Project Power Global
"If you are reading this, and you have an idea or something you want to do/see/change, take this from me, the person who spent 2+ years ignoring my dreams because of fear, DO IT!" - Arissa Roy
Hello! My name is Arissa Roy and I am a 14-year-old youth activist and founder/CEO of Project Power Global an international organization aiming to fight poverty through education.
Have you ever heard of turning points? Perhaps you’ve experienced one. If not, a turning point is classified as a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs. 2017 was the year it all changed for me.
In December 2017, I travelled to India with my family. During my adventure, aside from visiting family, I had the opportunity to visit local schools around underdeveloped communities in Dehli. I was able to chat with students, learn about their lives, the struggles they faced, and what they lacked. Language was a barrier but luckily my parents were able to help, and I believe our smiles meant more than a thousand words could say. I learned that many were going to have to leave school to work, and the education that they were receiving was not at all the type that they deserved.
I thought back to all the times I heard my friends complain about our school back in Canada. How the desks are too small and we need bigger ones so that we can fit more toys inside, or how the AC needs to be fixed. Then I looked around at the environment the children were learning/living in. With no roof, no floors, no shoes. After this experience, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the inequalities the children I met faced. I couldn’t sit with knowing that they have so much potential and that they are never going to live it out if nothing is done to address the problems.
Before travelling to India, I was a little 10-year-old girl who enjoyed dancing and annoying my little brother. I didn’t really think about philosophical things such as purpose - I barely even knew what philosophical meant. But after my trip, I was a different person. I had unlocked my calling.
Upon returning home, I started jotting down notes on what I could do to help. What I wanted my impact to look like, who could help me, even fundraising ideas. I was so invested in this and I am more invested today. Here is a photo of my first brainstorming page:
As you can see, I was ready and I knew that this was what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. I knew I had to fight for those kids. But, for whatever reason, I just couldn’t. I wasn’t able to process the information and take action. I wasn’t able to take myself seriously.
"Before travelling to India...I didn’t really think about philosophical things such as purpose - I barely even knew what philosophical meant. But after my trip, I was a different person. I had unlocked my calling."
Up until recently, I didn’t understand why. But I do now. As the former secretary-general of the United Nations once said, “have confidence in young people, give them a chance, and they will surprise you.” Throughout my journey, my youthfulness has caused me a lot of self-doubt. I kept telling myself that “only adults can make a difference” or “why are you wasting your time.” I didn’t think that my actions could create meaningful change. And you know what I’ve learned- THIS IS TOTALLY WRONG. If you are reading this, and you have an idea or something you want to do/see/change, take this from me, the person who spent 2+ years ignoring my dreams because of fear, DO IT!
During the COVID-19 pandemic and having ample time to reflect on life, I decided that I was done waiting/not believing. I finally started to follow my instincts. This led me to found my organization Project Power Global and I am so grateful to say that I have a team of over 15 changemakers from around the world working with me to take action against inequality and solve problems affecting children around the globe. We are still relatively new but have already done so much including running a virtual summit to educate people on social issues, writing a booklet about leadership skills for youth in impoverished communities, as well as work on developing a pen pal project to connect students everywhere. Aside from this, I have worked with several different organizations including Unsinkable youth which is a platform raising the voices of youth while supporting mental health.
My journey has been crazy, but it’s just getting started. At the end of the day, the goal of all my endeavours is to make people smile and spread hope.
In closing, I want to let you know that if you are ever feeling alone, you are never alone. I thought I was until I opened my eyes and saw all the other people working to transform the world into a better place. We are stronger together and can move mountains faster when working with each other. If you would like to learn more about my work or get in contact, you can find me on Instagram @arissa_roy. Furthermore, you can check out www.projectpowerglobal.org to get involved!
I believe in YOU!