17 May Youth Central 7 Alumni: Cristina Acevedo
Youth Central is celebrating its 25 anniversary by profiling 25 of its alumni throughout the years. To help in this mission, Youth Are Awesome (YAA), a program of Youth Central, is helping out by interviewing and writing articles about the alumni. This article is written by Hui Wen Zheng, a junior editor on the YAA team.
The next alumnus featured in Youth Central’s alumni series is a soon-to-be high school graduate from St. Mary’s High School, Cristina Acevedo. In her time at Youth Central, which is not quite over yet, Cristina served as a leader on the TD Youth Earth Ambassadors committee, volunteered with the Youth Volunteer Corps program, and served on the Mayor’s Youth Council committee as a member and co-chair.
“I first joined Youth Central because all of my teachers were telling me that I needed extra-curriculars to get into university,” Cristina shared.
However, the skills and confidence she developed over the past four years were indispensable, and encouraged her to get even more involved in her community. She credits Youth Central for turning her from a shy student to someone who is more outgoing and comfortable with sharing her voice.
One of the projects that resonated most with Cristina was the water bottle greenhouse, which she found cool because it was the first time she was part of a project that was entirely youth-driven. The water bottle greenhouse is still in use today in the Parkdale Community Garden.
While Cristina is still deciding on her plans for next year, she is sure of one thing: “Youth Central helped me be more prepared to leave for university, and helped me become confident in myself.”
She attributes many of the positive impacts she has experienced to being able to work with other youth and pushing herself beyond her comfort zone to be involved in the community, something she is hoping to carry into the future. “It’s been a really great experience, I feel like the people I’ve gotten to meet and work with have been stellar people overall.”
As Cristina prepares to leave Youth Central, she offers up a valuable piece of advice:
“Listen more than talk when you’re working with other people, that’s when the best ideas come out. When you’re too focused on what you have to say, you often find yourself missing a lot of the really valuable and cool ideas that other people might have. Learning to listen more is a skill a lot of people lack, and it is really important.”