Sheliza Kassam
Sheliza Kassam

Sheliza's inspiration to give back to her community and become a leader in today’s society is based on the challenges that she has personally experienced. At the age five, she began volunteering in her mosque, as service was highly valued in her Muslim faith and family. Additionally, she joined Girl Guides of Canada as a “Spark”, which allowed her to develop leadership skills and advocate for the importance of woman in society.

At age eleven, she was told that she needed eyeglasses for my astigmatism. Upon further inquiry she learned about Lions Club International, who collects eyeglasses for children in developing countries that are not fortunate enough to have eyeglasses to correct their vision. This initiative gave her the motivation to start a fundraiser called “Sight Night”. Together with the team, she has been able to provide the “gift of sight” to 2800 underprivileged individuals around the world.

On her 12th birthday, she had an allergic reaction to her birthday cake, which caused her to lose excitement for her birthday as her peanut allergy felt inescapable. She took this devastating experience as an opportunity to find a different way to celebrate her birthday. While exploring her options,she realized that even though she had a negative birthday experience, there are many children who never have the opportunity to celebrate their birthday at all. Thus, at age 13, she celebrated her birthday by donating money and serving a meal to homeless families. After this birthday her wish was to change the world by spreading joy to underprivileged children. This vision led to the creation of Children’s Birthday Miracles (CBM) a not-for profit organization dedicated to providing hope and celebration for less fortunate children. CBM provides cake, presents, loot-bags, entertainment and necessities to create birthdays that children dream of. This past year Coca-Cola sponsored $35,000, which was used to rent a theme park for 200 underprivileged teens. The teens experienced a day where they escaped the struggles of reality and celebrated an important occasion - their birthday. This organization has now grown internationally as we now host birthday parties in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. In addition, CBM has inspired over 30 children in the past three months to donate their own birthday presents to CBM. Presently, they have a dedicated team of passionate youth, adults and businesses that helped us reach our goal of raising over $65,000 with corporate sponsors: National Bank, Coca-Cola and McDonalds Canada.

As Sheliza is the President of her Junior Achievement (JA) company, this organization has taught her that youth have the capability to become entrepreneurs. Currently, she represents 600 Southern Alberta JA students on the National and Local Ambassador team where she enhances the Canadian program and hosts the Next Generation Leaders Forum. This forum engages youth across the globe to develop leadership skills and create a plan of action to start an initiative for their country. JA has sparked her interest in becoming a Chartered Accountant and starting up her own business that pursues philanthropic endeavors.

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