NiagaraThisWeek.com: Article: Youth challenged to get involved in global community
NiagaraThisWeek.com: Article: Youth challenged to get involved in global communityBy Scott RostsWest LincolnJun 15, 2007
SMITHVILLE — Christal Earle wants youth to know they can make a difference.The co-founder of LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) Leadership Development, a Hamilton-based charity that encourages hundreds of students to engage in humanitarian relief work, says youth need to understand that they can follow their “dream of what (they) want to be and do”. Earle recently visited South Lincoln High School in Smithville to spread her message during an assembly presented by the Youth for Change.”You and I can make a difference,” Earle told the students and special guests from organizations such as Grimsby Life Centre and International Justice Mission.After a tumultuous time during her youth growing up in Saskatchewan, Earle said one day she decided she wanted “something more”. Looking around the world today and some of the global issues such as aids orphans and children dieing from starvation, Earle said her and her husband Vaden “decided we wanted to do something about it”.From there, Hero Holiday was born. The program provides opportunities for high school students to participate in a humanitarian relief project by bringing practical assistance to those living in extreme poverty. Activities include everything from building homes to distributing supplies to working with children at risk. Last year they even built a school.”People like you and me are going to Third World countries and making a difference,” said Earle.The stories, she admits, are touching and their outlook on life changes as they see first-hand what people living in other parts of the world go through.In 2005, the first year of Hero Holiday, about 180 students went to work with Haitian refugees in the Dominican Republic. She said the refugees lived in a garbage dump, a site that “blows your mind”. She warned the students to ensure they wore their shoes while spending the two hours with their refugees there, so they would remain safe while walking through the dump. When the time was over, she noticed one student wasn’t wearing their shoes. She looked around and discovered none of the students had their shoes anymore.”Every one of the students that day gave their own shoes off their feet to the refugees living there,” she said. “They made a difference.”Earle challenged students to get involved and “make a difference”. She said programs like Hero Holiday are an “invaluable opportunity” to show how lives can change and provide “brand new beginnings” for those in impoverished countries.Opportunities exist this summer, she said, with Hero Holiday. Upcoming trips include the Dominican and Mexico. Information on the organization can be found at .”You will never regret it,” she said of the experiences.