More than 1,000 Manitoba students gathered in Winnipeg on Monday for a major volunteering event.
Count Me In is a conference that’s meant to inspire kids to volunteer, and the movement’s 19-year-old founder was in Winnipeg for the event.
“Count Me In really started as an idea in my head for an assembly to help connect students in my own school to local clubs and councils,” said Shane Feldman. “Obviously it’s grown a tiny bit since then.”
Feldman told the students at the conference he had difficulty at his Ontario high school, but things began to change for him when a guidance counsellor got him volunteering.
“I’m still shocked to this day that something so simple turned my life around,” he said. “The more I got involved, the better my life got.”
The conference had 25 acts packed into four hours on stage, including a spot from 10-year-old Maddie Cranston who is an international ambassador for AfriOceans.
The young activist was inspired by watching the movie Oceans when she was six years old.
“I saw all the pollution we were causing, and I was crying,” she told the students. “My mom asked me why, and I said, ‘I know what I want to do with my life'.”
Now, the 10 year old wants to become a marine biologist.
“You are able to great things if you believe enough in yourself,” she said.
Manitoba student Caroline Caceres already volunteers in Altona and said Monday’s conference was a good reminder of how worthwhile the work she does is.
“It’s nice to give back, and it’s a way to get to know people,” she said.
Count Me In isn't just about encouraging students, though. It creates links between teens and community organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
Al Altomare is the high school liaison for Habitat For Humanity Manitoba.
He said the group has been useful in promoting their need for volunteers.
"They're open to our message of how important it is to provide low cost affordable housing," he said.