Young, black, ready for change: How 3 young people aim to remake Hamilton

There's a lie that each generation tells itself as it gets older and starts to take control. It goes like this: kids today aren't like us, they're lazy, distracted and just show no respect.

"It's easy for us to become trapped in how we see the world and how we view things but I think its important to listen to those who have different opinions." - Isaiah Williams, winner of the Youth Achievement Award at the John Holland Awards

The so-called greatest generation said it about the baby boomers and the baby boomers seem to say it about everyone else. And it's a lie. 

If you believe it, there are plenty of young people in Hamilton who can prove you wrong. Hailey Summers, Sheila Mwaura, and Isaiah Williams are young, black and already making change in Hamilton.

CBC Hamilton hosted a panel discussion Friday with the three young community leaders about how Hamilton needs to change with three people committed to making the city a better place.

Watch a recap of our conversation:

The three were honoured as youth leaders in their community at the 2017 John C. Holland Awards last weekend.

Learn a little more about our three speakers:

Hailey Summers was awarded the Youth Award for her outstanding record as a student athlete and volunteer work. Summers has won seven Ontario Basketball Championships as well as an Ontario soccer championship, leading to a soccer scholarship with State University of New York at Albany. 

Summers said her generation is in the best position to make a positive change in Hamilton.

"I think our up-coming generation has been more open and our education system is getting better with regards to accepting people for who they are," she said.

Sheila Mwaura was awarded the Lincoln Alexander Youth Award and spoke about the city that has since become her home after moving from Kenya. Mwaura says she hopes to go to university to study law or business.

The high school senior recalled a vivid memory from her childhood as the moment that inspired her to make a difference.

"I grew up in Kenya and when I was 7 years old my family went to Nairobi," she said. "Just walking down the streets you would see little kids begging for money while their parents were dying off to the side."

Mwaura said the stark contrast between her life and the lives of those kids still motivates her to this day.

Isaiah Williams was awarded the Youth Achievement Award for his active role in the community. Williams volunteers with St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and is a member of his high school model UN.

Williams had a message for Hamiltonians, regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation.

"Always listen," he said. "It's easy for us to become trapped in how we see the world and how we view things but I think its important to listen to those who have different opinions and come from different walks of life. So whatever one does, always listen."

The discussion covered race and the experience of black youth in Hamilton, the recent election of Donald Trump and the affect being felt here in the city, as well as the role of youth leadership in the community. 

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