Krista Cameron dances to the beat of a local drum. This 20 year-old once thought making a difference meant traveling far away to reach people in need. It took one chance encounter with a member of the Changemakers community for her to see that she could take action right in her own town.
A student at Capilano University in North Vancouver, Krista always knew that she wanted to help people. That is what attracted her to Capilano University’s Global Stewardship Program, a two-year Associate of Arts degree dedicated to creating young social entrepreneurs.
Though she wasn’t quite sure where this desire would take her, she was all but certain she would have to wait until she finished school and leave home—probably go overseas.
Then one day she came up with a solution to a problem right in front of her eyes.
“I was on a bus going through the downtown eastside and was engulfed by the hardship faced in the area,” she recalled. “I felt like my plans to work in impoverished areas in Africa and India were somewhat naïve if I could not even help those in my own city.”
That same day she happened to meet a person who encouraged her to act locally: Charles Tsai, the Director of Youth Programs with Ashoka’s Youth Venture. Charles had come to speak to one of Krista’s classes. During his presentation she had her proverbial ‘a-ha moment.’
“Through [Charles’] presentation, I realized that I did not need to go to India to volunteer at this point in my life in order to help people in need. Instead, it hit me that there are people right in my own city that I could help and a passion I have that can help.”
Krista decided then and there to put her passion for social change and for dance together right in her own community. She started small, like most big ideas do. She initiated the Heart Dance Source Program, which provides dance lessons, free of charge, to school children in a neighborhood that is among the poorest in all of Canada.
With some mentoring from the Changemakers community—through the Staples Youth Social Entrepreneur competition, Krista found a way to refine and plan to expand her project. As a winner of the competition, she received a $1,000 seed grant from Staples to expand her project.
Today, the Heart Source Dance Program holds seven classes a week and has so far served 55 kids, all taught by volunteers. The students are full of enthusiasm, Krista says, and dance is giving them a new way to express themselves and self-confidence. “They experience emotions and sensations. It’s their own movement. They experience self-expression and creativity.”
Krista hopes that in five years, the Heart Dance Source Program will have a permanent space, a full roster of instructors and students, and permanent funding. She envisions the studio to provide a wide range of programs and classes including yoga, Pilates and body rolling to underprivileged kids and families of the Downtown Eastside.
She hopes she serves an example to others who have a desire to make change, especially right where they are.
“I threw myself in there, and it’s my hope that others won’t be intimidated by their own ideas, and know their greatness and realize the opportunities that are given to them, because there are tons.”