AUTHOR: Allison Bowsher

When it comes to making a positive difference in your community, there are many ways to enact change and give back. To celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary, RBC launched the RBC 150 Challenge, giving young Canadians across Canada $150 to be used towards making their community a better place to live.

The results were nothing short of inspiring, with Canadian youth using the money to visit and entertain senior citizens, sponsor a youth soccer competition, give away shoes to those in need, and much more.

One Canadian who used his $150 to make the lives of members of his community a little bit brighter was Toronto teen Yasin Osman.

Growing up without a father, Yasin felt firsthand the effects of not always feeling supported. Citing his tight knit community as his inspiration for the RBC 150 Challenge, Yasin wanted to ensure that other kids felt like they had a place where they belonged. “I felt like there was a responsibility for me to do something for the kids that might’ve not been available for me when I was younger.” Knowing that other kids carry similar childhood burdens as Yasin, he used his love of photography to inspire local youth to find their passion. “The children in this community have so much on their backs 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.”

In addition to teaching local kids about photography, Yasin also used his $150 to show how small acts of kindness can have a big impact on a person’s day. By giving out subway tokens and flowers, donating to the local food bank, buying a new basketball for local kids, and purchasing coffee for fellow customers, Yasin showed that small acts of kindness can go a long way, something he saw instantly. “I told a man waiting in line I would buy his coffee. He said why? I said ‘I just want to try to make your day a little bit better.’ He said ‘Wow, that’s beautiful.’ He then turned around and said the same thing I said to the person waiting in line behind him.”

Before making a difference in your community, Yasin suggests first practicing self-care and improving your confidence and self-worth. “Start at home, start spreading kindness within your own household and even within yourself. 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.”