Toronto teens behind consent campaign named Young Women of Distinction
Tessa Hill and Lia Valente join other winners for panel on International Women's Day
Two Toronto teens who were praised by the Premier for their campaign pushing for the inclusion of consent in the sex-ed curriculum have been named the YWCA Toronto's Young Women of Distinction of the year.
Tessa Hill, 15, and Lia Valente, 14, started their "We Give Consent" campaign and petition more than a year ago with the aim of getting consent included in Ontario's sex-ed curriculum.
In the end, more than 40,000 people signed the petition and consent was included in the new sex-ed curriculm that debuted in the fall of 2015.
"This award is super important to us because we're being recognized as having voices and opinions that are heard by people and we have real power to create change in the community," Hill told CBC News.
The two Grade 9 students at the Etobicoke School of the Arts believed that the old curriculum was out of date. It hadn't been updated since 1998, long before the rise of social media, smart phones and as it turns out, the award-winning duo.
"It's kind of crazy that the curriculum we were learning had been developed before we were born," said Hill. "Creating a culture of consent is creating a culture not just of consensual sex but also of respect in general."
In January 2015 the girls spoke to Metro Morning host Matt Galloway about their efforts for change and Premier Kathleen Wynne got in touch later that day through Twitter. The teenagers then met with Wynne later that month.
<a href="https://twitter.com/WeGiveConsent">@WeGiveConsent</a> great interview this morning on <a href="https://twitter.com/metromorning">@metromorning</a>! Thanks for your important work! Let's talk!—@Kathleen_Wynne
Valente said that their mentor for the campaign nominated them for the award and they're "just really honoured to be among all the other people who are winning it."
Valente and Hill will participate in a panel discussion tonight for International Women's Day and will receive their awards at the Women of Distinction awards ceremony hosted by CBC Toronto's Anne-Marie Mediwake in May.