Ilona’s organization, Apathy is Boring (A is B), targets apathetic youth who remain outside the democratic process. These youth come from diverse backgrounds, including underserved as well as middle-class neighborhoods, and First Nations communities. She aims to increase youth voter turn out and increase youth community engagement.
Ilona is also bridging youth with Members of Parliament by providing a platform for dialogue. A is B sensitizes Members of Parliament and candidates about effective ways to connect with youth; increasing the key player’s awareness and understanding of the importance of youth issues.
I am particularly interested in mind-set change around how our society perceives young people. As we live longer and longer, and the definitions of what is young creeps up towards 40 years old. We can not afford to just dismiss this entire cohort as "future citizens" and only worthy of being trained and taught. Rather we need to redefine what it means to be a young person. We need to value young people's contributions as full citizens now, no matter their age, and support them via intergenerational partnerships, so that we are both tapping into the innovation of youth, as well as the wisdom of experience to solve societies toughest challenges. I am just getting started on this work, but an excited that we have just published the first quantitative academic study about youth-led impact in the Canadian context which includes recommendations about how we can all better support our young leaders. This solution will make a difference because it taps into the potential of a whole segment of our society that is currently being under-utilized. The strategy of changing the cultural narrative by speaking to Baby Boomers will work because they care about their kids, and want to see them succeed. There are lots of great niche examples of impactful youth engagement, and I am excited about knitting these together into a whole, and working towards wide-scale mind-set change.