I wish you could see what I see....
It’s 8:30am and I’m standing in McGregor Park’s hockey rink with my camera in hand. It’s freezing cold but there’s nowhere I’d rather be. This is the rink I first learned how to skate in…and here I am, almost 20 years later, about to capture some behind-the-scenes photos of these amazing young girls heading onto the ice to be a part of MLSE Foundation’s Change the Game campaign. This is special.
My name is Amina Warsame. I’m 25, from Scarborough, and I’ve been working at MLSE LaunchPad for the last four years helping young people through the power of sport. I have a passion for photography and I was given a chance to capture the behind the scenes of our Change the Game campaign; I want to tell you what that meant to me.
Listen, I’m a Black Muslim woman and growing up I didn’t see much representation in commercials, places, or people in high positions. I didn’t see myself. What made this campaign special is it gave a spotlight to youth we work with. There were no actors. No sets. It was youth I’ve spent years coaching. And we filmed in their neighbourhoods and locations we run programs in. It was so much bigger than a typical photography project; it was capturing the making of a message. A message that could spark real change in our communities and highlight these incredible youth for the world to see.
Day 2 and I’m in Regent Park. There’s Winnie, hoodie up and head high as he strolls down the alley tossing the football with Justice and Thaddeus. “That was a good one, eh?” as he tries to get the perfect shot. Seeing other youth that they know walking by made them feel like the superstars they are.
The way they supported one another and calmed each other in front of the cameras was beautiful. Their emotion was authentic, their energy contagious. Watching them break out of their shells on set was incredibly heartwarming. I couldn’t help but shed a couple of tears between photos because of what I was witnessing.
They didn’t just star in the spot, either. The youth had a hand in writing the script and shaping how they were represented. I got to see it come together. They even shaped the name of the campaign and moved it in a direction so that Change the Game was a call to action. A message that others need to act – that society needs to come together help create equity for youth. It was powerful.
These youth have boundless potential, but their capacity to explore that potential is limited due to barriers outside of their control. The Change the Game campaign is about levelling the playing field, lifting those barriers, investing in change, and most importantly giving youth the opportunity to dream bigger.
I get to coach these youth. I do it because I want to be a part of building a better tomorrow. Because I’m now in a position where I can shape experiences and help provide opportunities that didn’t exist in my community growing up. To see this campaign come together. To be in it. To blend my passion for creating social change and capturing beautiful moments was something I’ll never forget.
Thank you for allowing me to share my perspective. To share these captured moments. To share what this campaign means to me.
Let’s change the game.