Leader. Facilitator. Friend. At 15 years old, Madison Hennebury is the mentor she always wanted.
Growing up, Maddie—as she likes to go by—was more introverted. Her struggle with shyness could have been an obstacle, but someone came along and recognized a luminous spirit, zipped away beneath her thick protective layers.
After meeting a youth worker named Samantha while in middle school, the opportunity for change presented itself to Maddie. Working with Samantha at The Changers Ottawa, Maddie found her confidence, and she realized that she could be a mentor herself.
“I began to see myself transform into a leader,” says Maddie. “Sometimes it just takes the right moment and a reachable hand.”
With a hand from The Changers—an organization dedicated to inspiring and motivating youth in the local community—Maddie found her way into volunteerism. Now a mentor with the organization, she helps youth build their self-esteem, fostering wellness and self-love within their daily lives.
Maddie’s experience as a volunteer has empowered her to combat obstacles in her own life. “Volunteering has been a full-circle experience for me,” she says. “I am able to build my leadership skills and give back to others in ways that I once needed myself.”
A strong focus of Maddie’s volunteer work is ensuring youth feel welcome at The Changers. “This is somewhere you can express yourself and not feel judged,” she explains.
After graduating high school, Maddie plans on attending college and devoting her compassion for others to a career as a child and youth worker. She knows hurdles lie ahead, but she is determined to persevere and achieve her goals.
Sometimes, doubt finds its way into Maddie’s mind. “I just have to overcome it,” she affirms. “I’m on my way. I know that’s what I want to do and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Read on to find out how Maddie is harnessing the power to change the world one conversation at a time.
Why is “we” stronger than “me?” I believe that you lift yourself by lifting others. I was in a different place in my life before I began to realize how much of an impact I could create. As a volunteer, I am able to create an open and safe space to talk about real issues and create real change.
What is the kindest action you’ve been on the receiving end of, and what about the gesture touched you personally?
When I was in middle school, Sam Franklin from the The Changers Ottawa talked to me—I was heard in her eyes. She lifted me up when I needed it most.
Fill in the blank: Moving forward into the next 150 years, our country needs more in order to build a caring and compassionate Canada.
There is nothing more important and impactful then community. A sense of community and unity can change people dramatically. No matter what challenges you may face, having a community behind you is what creates change. Giving back to your community is what lifts us all.
What small action have you taken in present day to help secure a brighter future for our country tomorrow?
There was this girl at The Changers that was new. Her name was Dabbie. She stood out to me because she didn’t seem to interact as much—she was a lot like I use to be. I wanted to reach out to her and make her feel comfortable so she would have a good space to come to if she wanted to talk.
What is a cause you care deeply about and how do you want to help further it along?
I became a youth mentor with The Changers, and it’s been a really meaningful journey for me. I want to lift others and show them that you can make it through your challenges. I want to be that person for someone else.
Sarah Fox has a natural curiosity for people’s lives. She loves to hear about them, write about them and live different ones herself.