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Kelowna’s Madison Kaneda has a self-professed passion for giving back and is taking her first steps towards a life of helping others.
She is currently organizing a "Swag Swap" at New Wave Fitness to raise money for two causes near and dear to her.
Part of the proceeds will go towards New Wave's new program, started to help at-risk teenage girls in Kelowna who don’t have the emotional or financial support they might need.
"High school can be hard, especially if you have no one behind you encouraging you along the way,” Kaneda said. "We just want to be a light in their life to encourage them to go for whatever it is that they want for their life, despite what life has already dealt them.”
Kaneda went through some struggles herself, and at 24 she said she wasn't sure what to do or what her purpose was.
She set out on a long trip away from home, and spent time in Africa in the spring volunteering.
"That's what really sparked my idea of wanting to create some change and do whatever I could to help people that needed help,” she explained. "It changed something inside of me to want to love people more and to want to put people before myself and for that to be the mission of my life.”
In the slums, she met two young ladies named Loreen and Daches, who are 19 and 20. In their area, people normally can't afford any type of education. Although they had finished high school, their jobs prospects are really low without more schooling.
“I talked to them a lot when I was there because I'm super passionate about going for your dreams and what you're passionate about and I love helping people discover those things in their life,” said Kaneda. “They want to go to business and fashion school.”
Although further schooling doesn't cost a lot, it’s still more than they could afford. That’s when Kaneda decided to fundraise for them when she got back to Canada.
She said the trip made her realize how good it feels to help others and it was also a good reminder that being grateful is a must.
"No matter where you are in life or no matter what you have going on or what you need, the concepts of gratitude and perspective are so huge,” Kaneda said. “My trip to Africa definitely rocked my world in terms of seeing poverty and seeing people with so so little, like not even knowing if they would have food to survive for a few days.
“I realized how blessed we are here. Most people have food, most people have shelter, most people have these necessities. When you switch your perspective and you really realize what you do have rather than looking and focusing on what you want, I think it changes the way you view life.”
Kaneda said she know first-hand how positive thinking and thankfulness can change your life.
"I want to see the gold and the goodness of people and not only bring it out in them but help them believe and see it too,” she said. “I would love to help people live fuller, live better and live happier.”
When thinking of ways to make a difference in the community, Kaneda thought about all the things most of us have hanging in our closet that we don't necessarily need and decided on the clothing swap.
If you’re looking to get involved in the cause, you can drop off your high-end (but under worn) clothes at Moksha Yoga in the Mission, lululemon downtown and New Wave Fitness, behind Prospera Place.
If you don’t have anything you can part with, you can join in on the night of second-hand shopping on Nov.4 for a $10 entrance fee.
“Anything is super appreciated.”