23 Aug Youth Central 12 Alumni: Jon-Scott Kohli
Youth Central is celebrating its 25th anniversary!
To mark this milestone Youth Central is profiling 25 of its alumni throughout the years. Youth Central’s Youth Are Awesome (YAA) program is helping out by interviewing and profiling the alumni. This article is written by Danielle Lelong, one of YAA junior editors.
Jon-Scott Kohli is one of the 25 exceptional alumni being interviewed for Youth Central’s 25 anniversary. He was a leader in the Youth Central community from 1998 – 2001. He took part in the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC).
At Youth Central, Jon-Scott met other amazing people, youth, and adult, involved in the organization who were committed to making a difference in Calgary’s communities.
“I was hooked. Once I was in, I wanted more!”
Over the next few years, Jon-Scott took part in many tasks which made a positive impact on those around him. He built box cities, taught kids about street games, organized anti-landmine campaigns, wrote in magazines, and built websites, all to help make a difference.
One of Jon-Scott’s favourite memories was building a straw-bale shed in a community garden. “It was a blast, and it helped me develop my passion to see that young people have a chance to succeed. Today, I still think young people are terribly under-estimated, and we’d all be a lot better off if they got to make more decisions in our communities.”
Joining a Youth Central committee, like Jon-Scott did, is an easy way for youth to have a voice within their community. Committees like the MYC and Youth Are Awesome are excellent ways to exercise your opinion as a youth!
Jon-Scott moved from Calgary to Regina, where he joined the Saskatchewan Provincial Youth Advisory Council during high school. Afterwards, he studied Environmental Design at UBC, and then urban design and architecture at the London Metropolitan University.
Today, he lives in London, England, working in an architecture practice that builds stadiums around the world.
“Volunteering taught me invaluable leadership skills in terms of organizing events and projects, working with others, and building consensus.” According to him, there isn’t much of a difference between organising a team for a building and organising a team of volunteers to complete a project — both require the skills of listening, negotiation, and being able to come up with creative solutions. What allowed Jon-Scott to develop these necessary skills in the first place was none other than his volunteer experiences with Youth Central.
Although he learned invaluable skills at Youth Central, there is something else that Jon-Scott considers his greatest take-away:
“The greatest legacy of CYFC (Child and Youth Friendly Calgary, now known as Youth Central), is that whilst volunteering I met amazing people who have become lifelong friends. They mean the world to me, and I’m very lucky to have met them in the first place.”
Jon-Scott has certainly lived an exciting life so far — from building straw-bale sheds as a Youth Central volunteer to stadiums as a professional architect. To all the youth out there, he would like to offer a few pieces of advice:
“Try things out, and don’t worry if you fail. It’s difficult to explain, but as people get older, they tend to get less brave. Capitalise on your natural fearlessness as a youth volunteer, and just start doing things that you’re interested in. Sure, there may be people out there who are better at it, but you have to start somewhere and you don’t know now how, even brief experiences, will make your life much richer in the future.”