Brighter Days with “Be Well Boxes”
Q&A’s with Emilee Schevers
Where are you from? What place do you currently call home and why?
I’m from Kawartha Lakes, Ontario! I truly loved growing up in a small town of less than 2000 people. Fun fact: from my house I can see a lake, forest and field! I love having access to such diverse landscapes.
What community/communities are you part of ?
I am member of the blind and visually impaired community. I myself am legally blind due to a genetic condition. This has given me so many incredible opportunities to advocate and create change for the disability community, as well as meet so many incredible individuals. Despite what most might think, I am proud of my disability. I love knowing that I live a completely unique life since nobody else sees the way that I do.
What are you passionate about? What are your hobbies?
I am incredibly passionate about disability advocacy and connecting individualswith disabilities together. Growing up, I did not know many people with disabilities, so when I got the chance to meet someone with the same eye condition, it was life changing! This inspired me to create a social media movement called Tru faces, alongside my sister. Together we aim to educate about disability awareness, advocate for disability issues, and connect individuals with disabilities to those facing similar struggles. Another hobby of mine is competing in personality-based pageants. I am currently Miss Personality Ontario 2022! I starting competing in pageants because I hated that there was no disability representation and I wanted to change that (and I have!)
How did the idea for this project come to you?
I have always struggled with mental health myself, specifically disability related (ex. visual anxiety), but it got so much worse during the pandemic. People with disabilities were further isolated and the world was changing in inaccessible ways that further impacted our mental health. It was definitely a Eureka moment when I realized I was not the only one feeling like this. So, I asked myself, how can I give myself something to look forward to AND help others? So, I came up with “Be Well Boxes”. These self care boxes with several fun items intended to promote mental health, were sent out across the country to provide youth struggling with mental health some reprieve and to show them that they were not alone in their struggles. It was a way to unify us from coast to coast.
What was your motivation behind this project?
I knew this project was going to be a large undertaking but I got so excited at the idea of helping other to feel better. Knowing that I was putting a smile on someone’s face truly kept me going when I wasn’t sure that I could do it. And of course, I had incredible support and help from my family to make this happen. As well, it gave me something to look forward to each day when nothing else way going my way.
How did your community react to your project?
The response to this program was overwhelming! I knew there was a need but I had so many individuals step forward and say “I need this”. I wish I could have continued this project to fulfill all requests. People even wanted to sponsor boxes! I really could not believe it.
In retrospect, what was the impact of your project?
The impact that this project had on youth who were struggling mentally was greater than anything I had expected. I had so many positive messages after the project was completed about how much the individuals benefitted from the box and got so many pictures of them smiling while they opened it.
How has the project impacted you in your everyday life?
I got the opportunity to write this blog post! I have really enjoyed connecting with the #RisingYouth community and seeing other projects that are making a difference in the community. I love sharing my project over and over again and encouraging others to do one themselves. I still get comments about the project a year and a half later. As I finish schooling, I think about bringing it back and how I could grow this on a larger scale. If #RisingYouth has taught me anything, it is that we should and NEED to dream big! Truly anything is possible and #RisingYouth is here to make those dreams a reality. I would highly encourage anyone thinking of doing a project to just do it. I learned so much about myself and what I am capable of and have used that to propel Trufaces and other aspects of my life forward.
Were there some bumps along the road or things you may do differently in the future?
I did not anticipate that there would be so much need for something like this. If I had known, I maybe would have applied for a larger grant! One of the most unexpected things was at the end of the project. All of a sudden it was just over! I did not expect it to go so quickly and I had no idea where to go from here. That is when I decided to take my learnings and put them towards other projects. I put together boxes for the Tru Faces Ambassador Program and knew what it would take to do so.
What would you say to a youth who is thinking about doing a #RisingYouth project?
DO IT! Have the right people in your corner who can support you and encourage you along the way. Also that literally anything is possible so DREAM BIG.