Embodying empathy

By: Julia Le / Oakville Beaver 

Aiza Abid, a Garth Webb Secondary School student, was the winner of a YMCA Peace Medallion in the youth category.

Driven by passion to make a difference, Abid started Aiza’s Teddy Bear Foundation in 2013 to send stuffed toys to local homeless shelters and children’s hospitals.

In accepting the recognition, which comes with a $500 bursary to be used towards charitable work, Abid told attendees of the peace breakfast how thankful she was to be recognized for the work she loves to do.

“Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to represent 5.5 million children who are out of school in Pakistan, the 200,000 people experiencing homelessness in Canada and the millions of sick kids around the world,” said Abid, who also ran the Me to We Social Justice Club at her school and has recently taken her initiatives global by organizing a school supply drive for a school in South Asia.

The 17-year-old said she founded the foundation with the belief everyone deserves to be happy, whether it came in the form of a teddy bear, a blanket or backpack with school supplies.

“With every student, ill child or homeless person we met, came a story and these stories quickly became the driving force behind the work we do,” she said. “The same people we were helping were, in turn, helping us. They were inspiring us with their bravery, their selflessness and their positivity.”