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Helping teens is her job

<p>In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s hard to always lend a helping hand to a friends or neighbour.</p>

Brampton woman inspires youths to Rock the Mic



Rakhi Mutta


In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s hard to always lend a helping hand to a friends or neighbour.


For one community worker, helping others isn’t just a passion — it’s in her genes.


Raised in Brampton, Rakhi Mutta is a self-proclaimed revolutionary. Community work is in her blood; her father is a community development worker for Peel Regional Health.


“I always knew that I wanted to work in the community,” Mutta says. “I would follow my dad around and help him with the community events he did.”


It was a long road leading last September for Mutta. That’s when she landed her latest gig at Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Centre and became a part of the Toronto District School Board’s Safe School’s program, which helps suspended teens get support from outside their school community. She counsels teens who live in “at risk” neighbourhoods.


To steer her career in the right direction in 2000, Mutta enrolled herself in Sheridan College and graduated from their community and development outreach worker program at the age 19. Mutta finished her program with honours and won the Sheridan Leadership Award upon graduation. She then set off on her own to work internationally. She started off in England at a women’s shelter, then India and the United States, but decided to settle in Toronto.


Since returning, Mutta was a community worker in Mississauga, working with South Asian youth deadline with mental health and suicide.


“It’s important to be honest with the people that you’re helping, especially youth,” Mutta says. “If they feel that you’re perfect and that you’ve never made any mistakes, they won’t connect with you. I’ve made tons of mistakes in my life and I’m honest with the youth — it’s how you bounce back from those mistakes that counts.”


For a while she also worked for Legal Aid Ontario in Brampton, interviewing sex offenders, and young offenders, and metal health patients in holding cells to understand issues in social work.


Mutta says that youth need help to stay grounded and achieve their goals.


“A lot of kids have dreams and aspirations but they don’t have someone who’s willing to take the time to work with them. I wanted them to take something tangible and really get something from the (Safe School’s) program,” Mutta says. “They were dedicated to the project and really wanted it to be great and that kept us going.”


Mutta decided to help build the music dreams of one group of teens ages 13 to 19, and started Rock the Mic, an after-school program that helped youth write, produce and record their own original music. Through the program the youth also received a professionally produced DVD and CD and work with Toronto hip hop artists like Kamau, and recording artist Dan-eo. Scholarships from the Royal Conservatory of Music were awarded to top participants.


For more information on Rock the Mic or how you can help in other Toronto community initiatives, contact rakhi_mutta@hotmail.com.


 
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