Empowerment Squared: Helping Others Help Others


At the age of 15, Leo Johnson was forced to flee Liberia, his native country, due to a brutal civil war. 8 years as a Refugee – 4 in Ivory Coast, 4 in Ghana. Leo kept his head held high and persevered all the way to Canada. Leo continued defying odds and expectations, attending McMaster University for the next four years.

While at McMaster in 2007, Leo founded a club called Empowerment Squared, focused on youth empowerment, literacy and education. This club went on to produce an original production called ShAIDS of Grey, which tackles stigma and stereotypes related to HIV/AIDS. If Empowerment Squared McMasteryou are interested in learning more about this MSU club and inspiring change, feel free to inquire about your interest at esqaured@mcmaster.ca, and check here for further information about the chapter.

With a strong passion for empowerment of youth, and with a particular interest in integrating new-coming immigrant youth into their local communities, Leo and fellow Empowerment Squared members have since developed the university group into a charitable organization in the Hamilton community. Local programs, such as a Sports and Recreation Program, Homework Circle, and International Projects such as the Liberian Learning Center, and many other programs and community events have been major successes in Hamilton since ES’s foundation as an organization.

In my personal opinion, this organizations long-term investment principles  and their grassroots methods of assisting the community are all very inspiring.  As a McMaster student, I sometimes find myself forgetting the immense struggles and barriers that immigrants may face – from language to financial barriers, to resources and educational struggles – the list continues, and each factor is intertwined. With so much potential, many times all these youth need is a sport to play, a friend to make them feel comfortable, and a handful of positive, empowering experiences and people to change an their life forever.
Empowerment Squared is always looking for more volunteers and supporters year around, with a range of different needs to be filled to run wonderful events Empowerment Squared Soccerand programs. Check out the empowerment squared website here, and Leo Johnson’s page here, for further information on the history and how to get involved!

Join me this summer or fall in helping to create a warm and comfortable  welcome and transition for someone new!
~ Ben

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