Shilpa Narayan, 23, is the winner of Sher Vancouver’s January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award for $1,000. Narayan said the money will go toward continuing her education to became a drama therapist. (Submitted photo: Shilpa Narayan)

Surrey social justice activist wins Sher Vancouver’s Youth Leadership Award

Shilpa Narayan says her work is about ‘ensuring a safe space’ for marginalized youth

A Surrey woman says she “absolutely honoured” to receive an award that recognizes community leaders.

Shilpa Narayan, who is a mental health and social justice activist, recently received Sher Vancouver’s January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award which is awarded to someone “who has demonstrated involvement, commitment, and leadership in the LGBTQ community,” according to Sher Vancouver.

RELATED: Surrey-raised murder victim remembered in new documentary film, Sept. 7, 2018

She received the Gold Award which included a prize of $1,000.

Narayan, who is studying gender, sexuality and women studies at Simon Fraser University, said the money will go toward continuing her education to get a master’s degree. She said her goal is to become a drama therapist.

Narayan said she created a platform called “How a Struggle Became a Journey: Connection and Conversation for Mental Health and Wellness,” and through that, she travels to for workshops on mental health advocacy, education and literacy.

“Then I also intersect that with my social justice work, working with marginalized communities in how we can embrace diversity and inclusion,” she said.

“I have done work in the community, and for me… it’s ensuring a safe space because there are intersections between marginalized youth and mental health, but there’s really intersections with mental health with anyone from any community. I am very lucky that I’ve been given a platform — that I’ve built this platform — to be able to have those kinds of conversations,” Narayan said.

READ ALSO: Surrey residents make it big in January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award, Jan. 4, 2018

Narayan said she follows “the three Cs;” connection, conversation and change. She said the three Cs shows why relationships are so important.

“Because, ultimately, they can save a life. That saved my life.”

Narayan’s journey to social justice activism began at the age of 12 when she was diagnosed with “depression and severe generalized anxiety.” She said she was at “rock bottom,” but one teacher reached out to her to show her she wasn’t alone and that there was “strength in vulnerability.”

When Narayan was in Grade 10 and going through therapy and counselling, she continued to call her journey with mental health a “struggle.”

“My therapist told me that (by) calling it a struggle, we’re giving it that negative power,” she said. “We’re giving our story a negative power by calling it a struggle, so we should call it a journey because we are continuously going through this in life.”

Now, Narayan said, her opportunities to travel around and speak and work with “marginalized youth” has been “life-changing.”

“There’s been a lot of youth that hearing my story, they’ve opened up and shared their own stories and have started programs in their schools and are helping others. It’s a domino effect, these conversations.,” she said.

“When we start to talk about resiliency, when we start to talk about inclusion and diversity, oftentimes, it is a domino effect because one person will take your story and share it with another. When they share that story with another, they are adding their own story into it, too, and that’s my biggest goal in my work is that we just continue to share our stories, we continue to talk, we continue to have conversations because it saves lives.”

Narayan was also recognized as one of Surrey’s “Top 25 Under 25” in April of 2018.

READ ALSO: Meet Surrey’s ‘Top 25 Under 25’ award winners, April 11, 2018



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sold-out in Surrey: the ‘Second Coming of Delamont’s ‘God is a Scottish Drag Queen’

‘The title tends to scare a few people away,’ Victoria-based performer says of his hit show

White Rock neighbours to host second-annual ‘Feast for Friends’

Victoria Terrace residents to raise money for food bank

Task force brainstorms on support for Semiahmoo homeless community

Community service providers gather to discuss options for housing, income safety and more

Two people reportedly sent to hospital after two-vehicle collision in Surrey

Collision happened on the 16500-block of 64 Avenue

South Surrey couple donates $250K to students in honour of late son

Joseph Chung Scholarship Fund helps out 100 post-secondary students

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

Man clings to roof of car driving along busy road in Maple Ridge

The man was also seen jumping on the vehicle

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Most Read