Ali Berman of TeenFest 's Self-Discovery Lessons on the Importance of Empowering Youth

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“How Can I Help You Shine?”

Often, we are so consumed with our own lives and want people to help us, we forget to give back. But this perspective can prevent us from looking outward to see how others need help. Through helping others, I have learned, you help yourself.

If you have been a following The Self-Discovery Retreat, you know that one of my missions is to give you all the support you need to shine on your personal platform, whatever that may be! Today, I want to shine light on and give back to a reader, Ali Berman (Co-Founder of TeenFest Canada), who gives tirelessly to her local community (Victoria, BC).

 (c) Ali Berman

(c) Ali Berman

Empowering young people is Ali Berman's dream. Ali is making this vision a reality through the organization she created, TeenFest.  TeenFest provides a free platform for Canadian youth to get access to the resources and tools they may need to become successful as they enter adulthood.

When a TeenFest event was coming up in Victoria recently, Ali invited me to check it out, which I did. I was blown away by the powerful impact TeenFest is having on our local youth! Thousands of youth and their families attended. So, I had to shine a light on this humble hard-working Canadian family and showcase their work to the global community on how they are helping young people on their journeys into adulthood.

Ali has such a beautiful heart – as a wife, as a mother to three amazing children, and as an entrepreneur; she works hard to help others reach their dreams. I am excited to introduce you to Ali, who can tell you herself about her family’s mission, TeenFest. Through this interview, my hope is that Ali will fuel persistence in each of us to go after our dreams!

Tell me, how did you turn the idea for TeenFest into a reality?

We moved to Victoria from Toronto 5 years ago and found the transition hard. We knew no one when we got to Victoria, and we were unfamiliar with what resources were available for our children in their new community. Our older kids seemed to find what they needed online.  We couldn’t figure out why there weren’t any workshops or resources readily available, so we started doing research. We couldn’t believe that in Canada, with all the expos and trade shows, not one city had any for the youth. So, we decided to give TeenFest a try – we didn’t want to look back and say, “Why didn’t I do something for our kids when we had the chance?”

Why do you this work every day? What motivates you to persist?

My children are my biggest motivating factor.  I need to find resources to help them and keep them safe, so why not do it for others at the same time?  Every day is unique and wonderful; amazing people have come into my life because of TeenFest.

I loved the TeenFest event in Victoria and wish there had been something like this when I was a teen. Tell me, why do you believe today’s youth are so powerful?

I know this is going to sound cliché, but the youth are our future.  They are technologically savvy, more street smart, and have power over many buying decisions.  The youth today are stronger and louder than we ever were. The power they carry to make changes in the world are huge!

What is the take-home message you want the youth to remember when they leave a TeenFest event?

I want the young people to know who they can turn to in their community for anything.  Whether it’s a career path, a resource, or finding an activity, I want them to know that there is someone in their backyard to help them.

I love that TeenFest is a free event and everyone has access to its amazing resources! 

We want to make sure that no matter what socioeconomic background people come from, they can experience TeenFest without any hardships.

(c) TeenFest.ca
(c) TeenFest.ca

There is so much value in experiential learning and all of TeenFest’s booths have this component. Why is this important?

It is vitally important that our exhibitors are interactive because that is what engages the youth.  The more engaged a person is, the more they can take away from that experience.

I love your Teen Talent Contest that is a part of every TeenFest.  It seems many people get their start on the Teen Fest Stage. Tell me about some of these young people.

The Teen Talent Show amazes me each time we are in a city – the talent is incredible!  Shon Burnett won our first Surrey contest and a voice coach was one of the judges.  He approached us and asked if he could work with Shon. We said: “The whole point of TeenFest is to help the youth with their goals and dreams; so, absolutely!”  Shon went on to compete at YTV’s The Next Star Season 7 and he placed in the top 6!

Jada MacKenzie Moore won our Vancouver show; with the $250 prize, she was able to enter other contests, which has been instrumental in her career, especially since it’s just her and her mom.

How do local youth get involved in the Teen Talent Contest?

It is a FaceBook contest where the top 12 can perform live in front of judges for a chance to win $250. They send us a Youtube link and we post it for votes.

It is so important for youth to have positive role models. That is why I love your Go Fund Me campaign to have Shawn Mendes at TeenFest to empower youth. Tell me about why you want him there and your campaign to make the dream a reality.

We started the campaign because we thought it would be great to have a Canadian Superstar who has “made it” to tell his story.  Many youth and their families don’t know the right path to take to achieve their dream or how to even begin, so we thought: “How exciting would it be to bring Shawn to an event, or events, and have him inspire the teens?!!”

It is clear that you are helping everyone else. But I have to ask: How can we help you turn your dream into reality?

That’s an easy question to answer – money.  It takes a lot of money to put these events on – from piping and draping, to tables and chairs, to marketing.  We donate booths to non-profits that can’t afford to be there as they are grassroots; and we strive to bring many fun things to the event – climbing walls, bungee runs, etc. … so essentially we need sponsors.  The more sponsors we have, the more booths we can donate and the more attractions we can bring out. We want TeenFest to be bigger and better with many different offerings for the youth and their parents, but it takes money to make this happen.

Thanks so much, Ali,for sharing your insights with all of us about TeenFest and for empowering Canadian youth to become the best they can be! You Rock! Thanks also for sharing how we can help you to #fuelpersistence on your journey. Through supporting TeenFest and the work you do, we are all investing in our youth and Canada’s future.

Four ways we can help Ali right now:

  • Engage with TeenFest and follow them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).
  • Tell your friends, teens, and schools about #TeenFest.
  • Help TeenFest find sponsors :)

We can all do our part to help make this world a better place. Thank you all for reading and for your presence at this beach retreat! May Ali’s insights empower you to fulfill your personal and professional goals!You rock! 

margaret mead

Did you learn something special from reading about Ali’s insights as a mom and co-founder of an organization? Feel free to share in the Comments section below.  We can all learn from hearing your stories and advice!

As well, if you know of someone who could benefit from this interview, please pass it forward to #fuelpersistence for someone else’s journey!

See you at the beach!