Youth Can Move the World 2008 Keynote

Youth Can Move the World is a symposium where youth learn about and become involved in programs focused on creating a world that is socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. It is designed to encourage and enable youth to engage with community-based organizations to explore opportunities to transform their interests into action through local volunteerism.

The following is a speech read by Daniel Francavilla at the 2008 Symposium in Mississauga, Ontario.

Good morning everyone. My name is Daniel Francavilla, and I am a grade 12 student at St. Marguerite d’Youville Secondary School, and I am also Founder of my own International Agency. More on that in a minute! I am here to tell you about the Agency Fair which will take place over the lunchtime period.

The Agency Fair was created for several reasons. First, it provides an avenue to promote youth volunteerism and it also provides an opportunity for Agencies to showcase to youth their valuable services in our community. This year we have 22 Agencies participating. We would have liked to have included more agencies, but available space kept us to this number.

By volunteering with one of the agencies here today, you can become a leader! You will help to create new knowledge about volunteering for yourself and for future groups and generations following you. Each of these Agencies has agreed to participate in a research study following the Symposium. The purpose of this research is to:
• contribute to the growth in the number of youth who volunteer their time within the community;
• identify some of the barriers to this, and
• determine some ways in which the experience of this engagement can be enhanced for both the youth and the agencies with which they volunteer.

We will share our research findings with all participating youth and agencies. We will be asking all youth who sign up for volunteer opportunities here at the Fair to sign a “request for release of information” form to enable us to follow up with you and the agencies later about your experiences.

Now to the prizes!
When you registered you were given a ‘passport’. When you visit the agencies, you need to take some time to speak with the staff and volunteers and learn about their good work. They, in turn, will validate your passport. The youth that have visited the most agency booths will have a chance at winning prizes. It’s a simple as that.

So, we invite each and everyone one of you to explore the agency booths, learn more about them, and of course consider signing up for one of their volunteer opportunities. There will be staff and volunteers from each of these agencies ready and waiting to answer any of your questions, tell you about their services, and of course also tell you about the volunteer opportunities they have available.

Along with the agency staff, there will be Sheridan College students who have volunteered today from the Community Worker Program who will be assisting these agencies and assisting Donna McBride, the Agency Fair Coordinator.

Now, I’d like to share some of my story.

As I said, my name is Daniel Francavilla. I’m currently finishing grade 12 at d’Youville – but when I was in grade 10, just 2 years ago, I had a life-changing experience. I had the chance to visit the Dominican Republic. But I can guarantee, I did not experience the Dominican Republic in the way that many of you have – endless sandy beaches, unlimited drinks, air conditioning, massages, pools, huge buffets, or snorkelling.

Instead, I was exposed to the harsh reality of life in the developing world. In this beautiful vacation hotspot there is much suffering. Just outside the doors of the resort, a world of extreme poverty exists.

Whether it be children living in isolated villages working on the sugar cane fields or adults working long, exhausting days for almost no pay, I witnessed a lot of corruption – which is a reality in our world today. But of course, there is hope. Why are we here today? Because we can move the world.

Immediately after I returned home to Brampton, I felt inspired to make a difference. My intent was not simply to satisfy my personal desire to help; but to make a lasting change. After much thought and support from the Church I attend, I came up with the title “ACCESS Charity”. My goal in short: to provide children in the developing world with an education. Something that many of us take for granted here in North America – the chance to go to school!

Fortunately, fundraising began with a bang. After speaking at the services one weekend at St. Marguerite d’Youville Church, I was able to raise $8,500 towards the new project called ACCESS. Amazed at the support, I proudly sent the money to the Grey Sisters in the Dominican Republic who purchased uniforms for as many children as they could. I chose this cause because many times, without a uniform, students aren’t allowed to go to school.

Since then, my friends, family, and both parish and school communities have shown support of ACCESS Charity through raffles and school supply drives. I was very excited to find out that I won the Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Award – more publicity for ACCESS and hopefully some encouragement for others to do the same work. It’s great because it is extremely important to raise awareness of the issues related to poverty; not simply raising money, but so that we as a whole, the youth, the next generation of this world, can use our knowledge and resources to enhance our world for the better of all humanity.

ACCESS Charity is about youth making a difference on a global scale. It’s an acronym for “allowing children a chance at education with school supplies”, but it’s more than that. Let’s bridge the gap between our world and the developing world.

I hope that you take the time to visit the website for ACCESS Charity,, and visit the booth – along with those of the other great organizations here today. If you would like to help fundraise or spread the message, I invite you come speak to us at the booth this afternoon.

As Ghandi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

And on another note, being a leader and making a difference can mean something as simple as volunteering some of your time to a worthy cause, or it can mean taking bold action and organizing something, such as a GuluWalk for Peel Region. There really are no limits – only endless needs and opportunities. I was asked to speak to you today by the Youth Can Move the World Steering Committee specifically because of the work I have done to create ACCESS Charity, and to be the change I wished to see in the world. You are all invited to consider how you might make a difference. As this symposium ends, communications with Youth Can More the World should not. The organization will work to bring you information about places where you too could make a difference in the world, either through our website or in partnership with other organizations. And, they welcome your suggestions and recommendations.

Thank you for your time, and thank you for coming out today!