Isabel Lahela is a multi strength sport athlete and personal trainer, aiming to promote positive body image, self love, and confidence through strength training. Over the course of her life, Isabel dealt with common disordered eating patterns and body shaming. Being a dancer did not help, as body form is a central and negative part of the dance culture. After years of this negativity and without being able to address the issues properly due to the taboo nature of eating disorders and body shaming, Isabel decided it was time for a change. She found a way to channel her energy in a positive way to improve her self-image, mental health, self esteem and view on life through strength training, CrossFit, Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting. Now, Isabel has become a symbol of healthy living, self-improvement and self-empowerment. While not a natural-born athlete, Isabel works hard and stays consistent with her training and lifestyle and aims to show others that fitness is truly a way of life and a total body and mind self remedy for anyone and everyone. She is currently a Canadian National Powerlifting Record Holder as well as Canadian National Olympic Weightlifter.
I have a tattoo that reads "Ken" on my back, in memory of my dad who tragically lost his battle against depression. My dad was a loving, athletic, charismatic and hilarious man with a beaming personality. He made a difference in many people's lives, just by being himself. Losing him at the age of 12 in such a tragic way, shifted the trajectory of my life.
After his passing, I gradually began to struggle with my own mental health; from chronic anxiety, depression, skewed body image to unhealthy relationships with food. I coped during high school by repressing my problems, partying and making unhealthy lifestyle choices.
These coping mechanisms lead to a rude-awakening in terms of my physical health. I was somehow blessed at that time with a new-found strength to make some serious lifestyle changes. I was determined to regain my control mentally, and use my struggle as fuel to make a difference for myself and those around me. It took a long time, but things started to turn around.
At the beginning of 2017, I founded a club at George Brown College called NewView Collective. NewView is a mental wellness, student-run support group which we facilitate each week. It has been such a beautiful experience to provide a safe space where students come to seek support and to also provide support for others who need it. This collective effort has made all the difference for me, and my mission is to make sure it touches the lives of others.
Two years ago, a family member of mine was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. It wasn’t until then that I really became aware of the affect mental illness has on people.
I saw him grow fearfull and alienated. I saw it affect my entire family. I saw him push us away. Yet all I wanted was to be a positive light in his life. That’s when this topic grew close to my heart.
It’s important to educate people on the realities of living with mental illness, and that’s something I strive to do.
I want to help in any way I can. I want to support those who are affected, those who feel isolated and alone. I’m here. I’m listening. And you will get through this.
I started acting at the age of five, taking part in theatre and Broadway plays at various theatres across Ontario, Canada. Eventually, I moved on to commercials, TV, print and film after being signed to an agency and management company. I managed to land roles in multiple TV shows, commercials, print ads and a couple of short films.
When I was in elementary school I assisted kids who had disabilities. I just wanted to help others, but I was treated differently because of it and was made fun of by many of the students in the school. This didn’t stop me from helping, because I felt it was my job to help others.
Eventually, the bullying got so bad that I broke down. I would go home at night and cry in my room wishing the bullying would stop, but it didn't, it just got worse. Students from the school eventually figured out where I lived and started to egg my house. I would return to school only to be called nasty names and treated like a nobody; like I didn't have feelings or a personality. I couldn't take it anymore. I was tired of being harassed, put down and treated poorly. I tried to commit suicide on more than one occasion but kept getting stopped by a friend or just couldn't find the guts to go through with the suicide. I eventually ended up in the hospital and got help from counselors and doctors.
I was put on medication and diagnosed with depression and anxiety, but this didn't stop me from reaching for my goals. All of the negative energy encouraged me to take a stand and use it for something positive, and that's just what I did.
I now inspire people by sharing my story. I shared my story on W.A.V.E. which was featured at The Living Arts Centre and was put on by the one and only Louise Russo. At this event, I took the stage with Shane Kippel from Degrassi and Life with Derek. Both Shane Kippel and I spoke about the seriousness of bullying and shared our inspiring stories to over 2,000 students. I plan to find more ways to share my story with the world and hope to inspire many.
"I want to be an inspiration to others. I really want the world to know my story and I want people to know they are NEVER alone and that it WILL and it DOES get better, just think positive".
My name is Victoria, I was born in Toronto, Ontario and developed a passion for dance at a very young age. I have been competitively dancing since I was three years old, which has given me the ability to work in television, like Family Channels hit show “The Next Step”. Although I am passionate about dance, It added pressure which was hard on my self-esteem and therefore I developed negative body issues. When I started television, it only decreased my self-worth, which is something I still deal with and have to overcome. To combat these common problems, I use my social media as a platform to promote positivity and love. I have transformed my story into a film called “The Come Down” which touches upon my battle with my mental ability to strive as a performer. It shows young people that everything and anything is possible if you set your mind to it and believe in yourself.
My name is Katie, and from the time I was in middle school I became engulfed in the world of perfectionism. Straight A Student, athlete, Christian, and volunteer, you name it, I did it, and I did it to the best of my ability. With this came stress, stress that eventually I felt like I couldn’t control, which eventually led to my battle with Anorexia Nervosa. What started as a 14-year-old girl going on a “diet”, led to an addicting sense of control, a fear of food, addiction to exercise, and an isolated personality that pushed many loved ones away.
Although I know it wasn’t easy, and I know I caused my parents numerous nights of worry and grief I am so thankful they did not give up on me. My mom was the angel who picked me up from school at lunch every day to ensure I was eating. My dad was the hero who sat by me and watched the scale at every weigh in. Their support and love is how I got to where I am today. Since then my loving fiancé has also helped me see the beauty in myself and has pushed me to test my comfort zones.
Fast forward to today, 10 years later. Although I have developed a better relationship with food I still struggle every day. My anxiety is probably worse, and I still fall into periods of isolation and controlling tendencies. I’m still fighting this mental battle, but what I’ve learned is, it’s a battle I don’t have to fight alone.
I am so thankful to have the opportunity to join Shine The Light On. My hope is that by finding the light in myself, I can help others to come out of the dark.
My name is Colby Craig and I was born in small town in St George New Brunswick. I fell in love with sports and fitness at a young age and played just about everything. Once I got to university I competed for the varsity track and cross-country teams. You could say I had a competitive personality growing up, people who know me well might say I’d do just about anything to be the best, whether it be school or athletics. At the age of 12 this perfection-focused mindset combined with a random onset of anxiety/OCD lead me down a long silent battle with mental health issues. I was a smaller teenager growing up and this always bothered me. I was worried about how my height affected my sports and also how people viewed me. I was known as the sports/fit kid and wanted to keep this identity so I became obsessed with “looking fit”. These obsessions lead me to over exercising and a long battle with an eating disorder. My ED/OCD and exercise addiction stayed with me through high school and my undergrad university years making everything I did that much harder. My long battle with ED continues to haunt me today with ongoing health issues but things are moving in the right direction. My passions for helping others lead me to a degree in Kinesiology and today I’m currently a Masters of Occupational Therapy candidate. I plan to use my experience with mental health and my love for fitness and movement to help others who struggle in silence with mental health issues. I’m a 24-year-old male, yes I said MALE, that struggles with mental health and this is the first time I’ve ever told my story. Don’t wait as long as I did, there is help out there. You don’t need to be ashamed and we don’t need to suffer in silence anymore! Today my main goals are becoming a healthy well-balanced person and athlete while also continuing to work on my own physical and mental health and motivating others to tell their stories and seek support!
I’m Hannah Alper and I’m a 15 year old activist, blogger, motivational speaker and author. For as long as I can remember, optimism and positivity have been at the core of who I am and what I hope to bring out in others and the world. As an activist, I understand that there are many overwhelming issues in the world, especially in my generation, but I also understand that if you get so hung up on the problem rather than the solution, nothing is going to get done. One thing I’m really passionate about is replacing the intolerance and indifference in our communities with kindness and compassion. I use my social media platforms to spread positivity and to shine the light on inspirational people, ideas, actions and movements. I make the conscious choice to believe there is good in the world, and as individuals, we need to be that good in whatever way we can, and trust me. There are a lot of ways.