I notice Alisha Rider waiting eagerly outside a classroom at Q.E.C.V.I. It’s hard to miss Alisha’s bright smile and colourful hair. Once we meet I apologize for being late. Alisha replies with resounding confidence “No worries, I’m just excited to do this interview”. The 15 year student is currently enrolled in the NEXUS program at QECVI. Alisha explains that NEXUS is, “a mental health classroom for teens that have faced challenges and are learning coping strategies to slowly be able to return to regular classes”. Alisha describes herself as a “busy body” and tells me that she has lots to do. Every Tuesday Alisha attends New Mentality, a social group for young people who are working through mental health challenges. Alisha speaks openly about her mental health struggles. “Mental health was introduced to me early. My mother was diagnosed bi-polar. Sometimes she was really happy and other times she was really sad. No one ever told me what she had. It wasn’t until the 7th grade when I learned about bi-polar disorder… before that I just assumed my mom was crazy”. Alisha apologizes for calling her mom “crazy” but states that she used those feelings to educate herself in order to advocate for those facing similar challenges. Alisha explains that her mental health diagnoses came later in childhood. “I knew I felt different, but I never talked about it, no one ever told me to talk about it. It wasn’t until I was hospitalized and met a worker at Pathways (for children and youth) that I started to learn coping strategies. Thinking back I just wished there was another young person telling me “you’re not alone” I could have done a bit better”. Alisha has now become that “young person” that she so desperately needed as a child. ” I am also a peer facilitator at F.U.S.E.” Alisha describes her role at F.U.S.E. ( a support group for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans and Questioning youth) as another opportunity to speak to other youth and let them know that they are not alone. Alisha’s goal is to get out into the community and share her message. Alisha highlights that Kingston has many resources but she wishes that they were publicized directly in the schools, “teachers and school staff didn’t know about F.U.S.E. or Youth Mentality… I wish they let me know that there were places I could turn to for help.” Alisha’s ultimate goal is to continue her education and move to Toronto where she feels her message can reach a greater number of young people. I asked Alisha if she envisioned herself being the next celebrity mental health/LGBTQ ambassador like Ellen Degeneres. She smiles proudly, “yeah! something like that”.