By Dylan Freeman-Grist
Shane Feldman remembers the anxieties he felt about entering high school. Adapting to a new environment proved to be the hardest two weeks of his life, but after only a few months, he took the first step in establishing his own organization.
“I had moved around eight times, so it wasn’t really a new concept,” said Feldman. “But just starting high school was nerve wracking.”
He took his concerns to his high school guidance councilor, promptly requesting to be transferred to a new school. His councilor refused to comply and instead, signed him up for 10 different clubs.
From that point on, Feldman became one of the most involved students in his high school. He was the voice of student activism. But he quickly noticed that other students weren’t as motivated.
“I’d show up to a club and there would be nine people there,” said Feldman. “I didn’t understand, so I had this idea for a school as- sembly to rally a couple hundred kids in my school, show them all the different clubs, get a motivational speaker and have a fun day to show kids how to get involved.”
The assembly was a huge success, so Feldman took his idea and expanded it on a regional, provincial, and eventually, a national level. At age 13, he had founded and established his own organization called Count Me In.
Feldman is currently a second-year radio and television arts student at Ryerson and also serves as the executive director of Count Me In. His organization aims to connect youth with volunteer op- portunities to help them flourish like he did.
While Count Me In’s main fo- cus is an annual conference, the desire to encourage volunteering is a year-round pursuit. Through a recent partnership with 1 Billion Hours, another volunteer based organization, Feldman hopes to launch a movement at Ryerson that will provide students with access to volunteer opportunities.
Feldman said that being enrolled in university has made managing a national organization more difficult. He puts in over 60 hours per week at Count Me In and has to make time for classes and assign- ments. But still, he is happy about his current tenure at Ryerson.
Feldman has earned appraisals from the Ontario Legislature and The House of Commons for his work. He has also been recognized asoneoftheTop20Under20in Canada, and holds a Citizen of Character Award, an award given to a community leader.
“It’s unbelievable how many [teenagers] feel like they don’t matter,” said Feldman. “The reality is they can do something right now today that matters, and they can change the world.”
*To learn more about Count Me In, check out cmimovement.com or follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneFeldman