Young Leaders in Action Series: Shane Feldman
May 3, 2012
If you think teens are apathetic, then surely you haven’t met Shane Feldman. As a 17-year-old from Thornhill, Ontario, he doesn’t just sit back and watch the world go by. He is a highly motivated, hard working, and driven young man who pays attention to details and strives for perfection…ultimately helping improve the lives of youth through his brainchild Count Me In. Count Me In is now recognized as the largest student-run initiative designed to inspire, motivate and empower today's youth to become leaders in their community. Their annual event, CMIC (Count Me In Conference) unites dozens of speakers and performers celebrating the power of youth and raising awareness of local and global issues, as well as volunteer opportunities. No easy feat, right?
It’s hard to believe that a 17-year-old could run an organization that operates like a well oiled machine. But it’s true. I got up on his stage last year as a speaker/sponsor and attended his second conference this week. It was amazing to see the growth, from 400 students last year to over 1,000 students attending his 2012 conference. High caliber speakers and performers (including Shane!) took the stage this week and wowed everyone in the audience. Hazel MacCallion (91-year-old mayor of Mississauga) got up on stage, wiggled her hips to the blaring dance music, and ultimately set the tone for the day – you can do anything you put your mind to…anything.
So, we thought we’d sit down and ask Shane a few questions about life as he knows it. Here’s what he told us:
Charity Republic: What most inspires you to make this world a better place?
Shane: Mostly, I’m inspired when I see a young leader, whether it’s a young charity founder like Wes Prankard, a teen philanthropist like Brooke Harrison, or a student activist like Jacques St. Pierre. Youth like these who have a drive to do good in our world are who inspire me to keep doing everything that I do.
Charity Republic: What motivated you to start Count Me In?
Shane: I think I expected high school to be filled with teens who had the activist mentality, and were ready to reach out into the community. I was shocked that more of my peers weren’t interested in volunteering or making a difference. At first I was just going to hold a school assembly, but I got so much support from friends, family and the school administration, that it turned into a province-wide event that is now a yearly field trip open to every Ontario high school.
Charity Republic: Why is it important for you to make a difference in this world?
Shane: Growing up with a mom who is an educator, and being the oldest of five siblings, I grew up understanding the concept of modeling…especially when it comes to behaviour you want to see in those around you. It’s very important for me to be an exemplary volunteer and humanitarian. I want everyone to feel that amazing sensation you get from making a difference somewhere. That’s what motivates me to continue to grow Count Me In.
Charity Republic: What are you most passionate about?
Shane: I have two very strong passions. I already talked about my love of volunteer work, but another passion that is close to my heart is performing. I’ve been fortunate to have had some really great professional experiences including some work at The Second City and a stage role in the Toronto Mirvish production The Railway Children. My experiences with both theatre and volunteering combine to create in me the very confidence I need to succeed in the future. I am looking forward to spending my life doing the two things I love most; charity work and acting. As for a source of income...I’ll worry about that later.
Charity Republic: What advice do you have for young people your age?
Shane: I really believe that age is just a number. Anyone can do anything if they set their mind to it. The number one piece of advice that I would share is don’t be afraid to set a goal. Setting goals is like making a promise to yourself that you have to keep. It’s the starting point for all your planning. Your goal let’s you know where you need to go and what you need to do. But I can’t stress this next point enough….don’t ever limit your goals. Dream big because there’s power within you.
Charity Republic: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Shane: I see myself running a national awareness campaign inspiring youth to volunteer and become active leaders in their communities. Count Me In began as a small school project, and now it’s a rapidly growing province-wide campaign. I am excited to see where it will take me over the coming weeks, months and years.
That’s right folks, age is but a number. Help support Shane’s dreams. For instance, if you’re an educator, then get your students out to the annual Count Me In conference. If you’re a charity or nonprofit, then get involved with his annual Charity Marketplace. If you’re a student, then help get your school out to this one-day event. Or, volunteer with this amazing organization. Need convincing, then read CMI volunteer reviews here: Count Me In Volunteer Reviews
Yours in volunteering,
Founder, Charity Republic
Great Post! #CountMeIn
July 8, 2012 | Ash
Wow. That's incredible.
July 3, 2012 | Alex B