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Canada’s 150th birthday will be a celebration of the country’s past, but a few young Canadians are using the milestone to look to the future.
To celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial anniversary, RBC is giving thousands of youth across the country $150 to use to make their communities better.
Meet 23-year-old Yasin Osman, a Toronto native who used his RBC Make 150 Count spending money to spread happiness and positivity one random act of kindness at a time.
Osman bought strangers coffee, gave roses to mothers and handed out subway tokens at TTC stops. He said the best reaction he got came from a man in line at a cafe: “I told a man waiting in line I would buy his coffee. He asked why and I said, ‘I just want to try to make your day a little bit better.'” The man said, “Wow, that’s beautiful” and turned around and said the same thing to the person waiting in line behind him.
When he’s not surprising others with gestures of kindness, Osman is teaching inner city kids photography as part of his campaign called #ShootForPeace.
“I felt like there was a responsibility upon me to do something for the kids that might’ve not been available for me when I was younger,” Osman said of #ShootForPeace. “The children in this community have so much on their back and I wanted to see them express themselves creatively and share some of that untapped emotion that is within them. Since photography was a love of mine, I couldn’t think of a better medium of expression.”
His favourite place to shoot is a caged basketball court in his Regent Park community.
“There is so much history there. I remember as a child the court would always be packed and even the local firefighters would come and play with us,” he recalled. “I don’t know how much longer it will exist, but that court means a lot to me.”
For any other young people looking to inspire change in their community, Osman says it’s easiest to start at home.
“Start spreading kindness within your own household and even within yourself,” he advised. “We’re so hard on ourselves and we tend to beat ourselves up for every little mistake we do. Learn to be kind to yourself and your surroundings first and change will occur naturally.”
For more information on how you can #Make150Count visit www.rbc.com/make150count/.