When Count Me In founder Shane Feldman visited R.D. Parker Collegiate in December 2018, he told Thompson youth all about his student-led organization and how they can mobilize to make their community a better place.
This assembly left a big impression on Grade 12 student Reese St. Pierre, who applied for the organization’s 2019 global student leadership summit based on the strength of Feldman’s presentation alone.
“He had everybody in the audience really engaged in everything he was talking about, everything that he had to say,” she said. “And I just felt really welcomed into his assembly and that’s the first time that’s ever happened in the school.”
After Count Me In accepted her application, St. Pierre experienced this same kind of welcoming atmosphere during the summit itself, which took place May 17−20 at Camp Trillium, located just outside of Hamilton, Ontario.
Throughout those four days, St. Pierre got the chance to train and network alongside 150 community-minded students from countries including Germany, Russia, Spain and the United States.
“On the first day all of us would be awkward and we wouldn’t talk to each other,” said St. Pierre, the only Manitoban at this year’s summit. “But the next day we would be open and we would be telling each other everything about our lives, because that’s just how it is there.”
Outside of traditional camp activities, St. Pierre’s itinerary also involved leadership workshops, speaking engagements with mentor figures and other networking opportunities that emphasized local community activism.
Now that she’s back in Thompson, St. Pierre wants to put everything she learned at this summit to the test by spearheading some environmental campaigns to help cut down on the use of plastic straws and other one-time-use plastics.
“I want to get in touch with some of the people who are already trying to do that here in Thompson and maybe even talk to our school board … and just let them know that I think everybody should have the opportunity to go to Count Me In, because it was such a life-changing experience,” she said.
On the cusp of graduating high school, St. Pierre wants to return to Count Me In’s global student leadership summit in the future as a mentor figure to pass her experiences on to future generations.
This global student leadership summit is Count Me In's signature program and has been running since 2011.
Feldman founded Count Me In back 2008 when he was only 13 years old.