All photos © Shania Bhopa

By Allie Murray

Understanding the power our mental well-being has on our overall health, Toronto sisters Anya and Shania Bhopa joined forces to create a nonprofit organization, called The Canadian Courage Project (CCP), to support homeless youth across Canada.

In hopes to reach even more youth nationwide, CCP has partnered with Jack.org, Canada’s only charity dedicated to empowering young leaders to revolutionize mental health.

“No child’s health should be left up to chance, as we know there is no health without mental health,” Shania and Anya explained. “Our community’s prosperity is dependent on how we treat our youth.”

Since beginning their passion project, the sisters have worked alongside homeless shelters in Toronto, Hamilton, London, and Ontario to craft specialized wellness departure kits for youth transitioning out of shelters. Similarly, they have held art and mindfulness workshops in shelters, started offering workshops in school, and more.

With their partnership with Jack.org, the CCP plans to expand its workshops and education-focused programs in shelters and schools, focusing on mental health and well-being.

“The peer to peer connection that we will be able to foster through our workshops will allow us to fight against the mental health stigma that often circulates and hopefully inspire young people to take charge of their health,” the sisters said.

Fostering positive mental well-being is at the heart of everything CCP does. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the sisters saw a gap in support for homeless youth, ultimately harming youths’ mental health. This, and the lack of education and resources for homeless youth, inspired them to create positive change.

“We wanted to support the mental wellness of youth facing homelessness, specifically those who own animal companions,” they said. “Homeless youth who own animals often have reduced access to shelter and support services, and we decided to fill the gap in the system.”

Their plans don’t end there: Shania and Anya have their sights set on making an impact for youth across the country. Expanding nationally will allow CCP to make a difference for youth entering the next stage of their life with the knowledge and confidence to do so successfully. Together, CCP hopes to build an army of changemakers.

To learn more, visit thecanadiancourageproject.org

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