It might be easy to look down upon the drug addict or alcoholic as the other end of society, the bottom end. Some might view them as having no value, nothing to contribute, not worth the investment of time and money.
We hear the stories of violence committed to get money for the next fix. For one person, that story became reality. In Montreal in 1972, Daniel Rudberg went to help an elderly woman who was being assaulted by a fourteen-year-old boy. The boy was trying to steal her purse. The boy turned and stabbed Daniel to death.
At the trial, Daniel's window, Twinkle (Sheila), learned about the boy's life in gangs, drugs, and many hours watching violent movies. In that courtroom, Twinkle move from viewing the youth solely as a perpatrator of violence to a victim of the violence he was destined to repeat.
Twinkle began to dedicate her life to resolving social issues related to youth, specifically violence. In 1993, she launched Leave Out ViolencE (LOVE) to reach out to youth at risk and empower them to effect positive change in an increasingly violent world. From its grassroots beginnings, LOVE grew across Canada.
She did none of it for recognition, but received several awards, including the Toastmasters Communication and Leadership Award in 2008, given to a non-Toastmaster in the community who uses communication and leadership skills to make a positive difference. To receive the award, Twinkle brought along a couple of the youths who spoke to an international audience of 300. For many attendees, it was one of the most emotional and memorable experiences at a conference.
The work continues. We'd like to share with you the moving stories of some young people who ventured into drugs, alcohol, and violence and survived. Now these young, intelligent, articulate adults are going from surviving to thriving. Here are their powerful experiences through their words and voices.
Caution: the videos contain language that some might find offensive. If you are offended, good, because the experiences they survived are far more offensive than words.
The most powerful speaker is the quiet voice that lived and lives the message.