This summer, TELUS surprised me with an opportunity to be a Youth Ambassador for We Day in Toronto. It was a huge honour for me to participate and to be recognized as someone who is making a positive impact in the community. One of the first questions that I asked TELUS was “why choose me?” I was curious, and their answer was simple: I had a powerful story to tell. So here it is:
Growing up, I listened to music all the time. Everywhere I went, my headphones were on and I was bumping tunes. Music has always been a big part of my life. And while I was always open to different genres, Hip Hop and Rap fueled my passion with icons like 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg on repeat. I was inspired by the commercial Hip Hop culture; absorbed by its messaging, although at times was very negative.
I wanted to be one those popular Hip Hop artists. I wrote lyrics that emulated their style; but the type of people I was associating with either got me into trouble or put me down. By the age of 15, my bad choices had caught up with me. I was arrested in the lobby of my building as my mom watched in tears. That was my wake-up call. I thought long and hard about the kind of people in my life. I knew I needed a change.
Fast forward a few years. Thanks to the powerful mentoring of some great teachers and a positive peer and community support system, I decided to revisit my passion for music. In my last year of high school, a few friends and I decided to make King of the Castle, a Hip Hop music video that tackles the issue of bullying.
I made a choice to use my rapping talent to create social change and be a voice for youth who need mentoring and guidance like I did growing up. Being selected to be a We Day Youth Ambassador was an amazing opportunity to extend my reach into the youth community to help make a positive change.
As part of my Youth Ambassador role, I have been tasked with helping kids find ways to make a difference in their community. That’s why I encourage you to join the We365 community. We365 is “a community of dreamers, believers, and doers who want to make the world more awesome”. All you need to do to join the We356 community is download the app on the Apple App Store or Google Play. With the We365 app you will be able to discover causes, rally your friends, take on challenges, spread the word, track your volunteer hours for school and scholarships and earn rewards. TELUS will also donate $5 to We Day and other Free the Children educational programs for every download of the app, so download the app now! Let your voice be heard and let’s work together to make this world a better place.
Wali Shah is a recording artist and one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 and serves as a youth ambassador with TELUS. He is currently a student at the University of Toronto at Mississauga and is studying Sociology in hopes of becoming a high school teacher. Follow Wali at @waliFLOshah and check out his music at www.walifloshah.com.