The following post is a guest piece from our friend and videographer, Andrew Hamilton-Smith. Andrew recently attended our first ever Peel Youth Leaders Conference in July and captured the excitement of the event on film. In the following post he offers his unique perspective on the valuable conversations and connections that took place between our young leaders at the conference. Thank you to Andrew for sharing his insights with us! 

The raw enthusiasm grew steadily for half an hour leading to the start of the PCYI’s Youth Leaders Conference on July 23rd, 2013, building to an enormous crescendo of applause when Executive Director Graham Clyne took to the podium to welcome the fifty young people who sat before him. Smiling, excited faces of our future generation focused intently upon those who would impart to them the magic art of leadership.

Our attendees get ready for a great day of learning and leadership.

As the videographer hired to cover this phenomenonal gathering, I had a unique perspective as I focused my lens on everyone and everything I could see. During lunch I spoke with almost a dozen youth who had volunteered to do on-camera interviews, and I was inspired by what I heard from them.

Their open minds, fresh and thirsty for the wisdom of the cosmos, gave myriad reasons for attending the conference, but seemed united around one core idea: that young people must be taught to be leaders, but also given genuine opportunities to contribute to decision-making in the adult world.

Yet frustration with sometimes being treated like “kids” popped up from time to time, but there was no cynicism; no bitterness; no animosity – only a desire to be heard and taken seriously. If young people are to lead tomorrow, they must be engaged as leaders today.

Trying to capture that raw idealism and motivation on film was no easy task, and it took time to get the right shots, but the youth waited patiently for their turn to speak. From behind the camera, the bravery I saw on display gave me renewed confidence in the future.

The amazing staff at PCYI did everything possible to engage youth in the planning and execution of the conference, and the speakers taught them a number of practical ways they could have an impact through government, activism, journalism, or policy research.

Stephanie Crocker & Rahul Mehta from Ecosource talk with our youth participants.
Stephanie Crocker & Rahul Mehta from Ecosource talk with our youth participants.

My own background comes from one of youth leadership – through student activism, air cadets, and political volunteering – so it was particularly endearing for me to see such a bright and bold group of young people with the desire to change the world for the better.

That inner enthusiasm, that fundamental concern for the well-being of others, is truly the most important thing to successful leadership. PCYI is definitely on the right track!

 andrew1-300x300Andrew has extensive experience in both traditional and digital media environments, and has worked on a wide variety of marketing projects in the non-profit sector. His interests include community/political activism, independent journalism, emerging trends in new media, and the effect of such technologies upon an evolving social model. He has a BA (Honours) in English/History from the University of Toronto Mississauga, where he founded the student-run web-TV station UTM/TV in 2009. His track record speaks for itself: Andrew knows how to achieve results on time and on budget. To learn more about working with Andrew, visit his website, Filmsmith Videography

Eager Young Leaders Take Charge!