A charity founded by high school students and run entirely by youth, Social Diversity for Children Foundation (SDC) – and its innovative model – is creating quite the buzz as SVP’s newest Investee. SDC is a shining example of a non-profit effectively addressing a social need in unique, unexpected ways, exemplifying SVP’s new strategic direction with a stronger emphasis on innovation.
SDC focuses on two core responsibilities in order to achieve their vision of an inclusive, accepting and compassionate world for youth of all abilities:
- Provide social learning programs to empower children with disabilities from all socioeconomic backgrounds
- Educate youth of all abilities about disability justice and youth empowerment
SDC’s music and art creative therapy programs serve to benefit participants’ verbal, motor, and cognitive skills with the guidance of professional therapists. Equally important, the programs are designed to be a vehicle for bonding and developing friendships between youth and children with disabilities and without. The programs are low cost, and SDC subsidizes the fee for children and youth whose families cannot afford them, which applies to approximately 80% of their participants.
Lead Partners Hamlet Abnousi and Scott Shaw, as well as a team of engaged SVP Partners, have been guiding SDC’s growth and providing professional support to help the organization recruit an experienced Executive Director.
Now in their fifth year of operation, SDC recently branched into Burnaby and Vancouver and doubled its therapy programs from two to four. At the end of their three-year plan with SVP, they will double down again, offering eight programs. This number doesn’t include their birthday program – presenting students with a special gift and party in their classroom – and the educational component they provide through comprehensive volunteer orientations and training workshops: teaching peers about the types of disabilities there are, disabilities as a human rights issue, and how to interact with people with disabilities.
Another element of what makes SDC really stand out as an innovative, up-and-coming non-profit is their volunteer model. Two hundred secondary school students support 150 youth and children with disabilities, with even more volunteers waitlisted. SDC’s knack at inspiring youth involvement could be taken as a learning opportunity for other non-profits. They use social media to great effect to recruit, organize, inform, and encourage their volunteers. Because there are more volunteers than children with disabilities to pair with, some youth take on activities in the non-profit realm, such as marketing and fundraising. These are the nuggets of gold in SDC’s model: they are training youth in non-profit management and molding young philanthropists.
Through their community programs and events, SDC’s young leaders help foster understanding and empathy between youth and children with and without disabilities. By inspiring a younger generation to embrace all people without discrimination, these youth reduce ableism one friendship at a time.