Citizens With Disabilities - Ontario


Teen Honoured For Helping Her Peers

Author: Leigh Blenkhorn
Date: Feb 28, 2008

Seventeen-year-old Lee Martin is helping others heal while on her own journey of self-healing.

The Barrie teen, who had a traumatic experience as a child, suffered from bouts of depression and thoughts of suicide in her early teen years.

But after overcoming her own demons, the St. Joseph's Secondary School student is working to help teens facing similar issues.

"Sometimes you can't help kids unless you know how they feel, and you can't really know how they feel until you have been through what they have," Lee said.

It's her dedication to helping teens battle mental illness that helped her to become one of 12 finalists in the 2007 Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards.

"I didn't actually think I would win anything," Lee said. "So when we got the call, and they said I won, it was pretty surprising."

The award recognizes Lee's work with Stop the Silence, a program she started with a grant from the Dare to Dream Foundation.

"Through Stop the Silence I visit high schools and talk with other teens, in small groups, who are dealing with mental illness," she said.

She has also worked with New Path Barrie and New Mentality, completed two high school co-ops working with disabled youth and managed to get her lifeguard credentials.

"I'm a pretty busy kid," she said. "I'm busy doing good things. I'm not a big partier. I'm not one of those sex, drugs and rock n' roll kind of kids."

Lee also volunteers teaching Sunday school, is part of a youth group, is on the honour roll at school, and babysits an autistic boy two days a week.

But no matter how busy she may be, you will always find her in front of the TV on Saturday mornings at 11.

"That's when Hannah Montana is on. I totally love her," she said. "Miley Cyrus (who plays Montanna) is a good Christian role model and it's just really fantastic show."

Lee said it's important for youth to be good role models for others, especially with so many famous young people losing their way.

"I totally looked up to Britney Spears when I was younger. When I was sick, she just seemed to be a good role model," said Lee. "I still feel that connection, just now it's like we have switched places. She is dealing with a sickness and I am getting better. But there is hope."

Lee's mom Jeannie said her daughter has come a long way, and she couldn't be more proud of what her daughter has accomplished.

"She stays positive and works really hard for what she believes in," she said. "I've been there and helped her every step of the way."

Martin said it's because of her mom and her therapist Jodi from New Path that she has been able to come so far.

"I wouldn't be here without Jodi," she said. "My mom is awesome. I can go to her with anything now. It's great when your mom understands, or tries to understand, everything you're going through."

Lee said she is still on her way to recovery, but feels helping other to deal with their mental illnesses is definitely helping her to deal with hers.

"You are never fully healed," she said. "It's like once you are an alcoholic you are always an alcoholic. Once you have tried to kill yourself, you have always tried to do it. But you should help others deal with those issues."

Lee, along with the other 11 Junior Citizens, will be honoured with at an awards gala this spring.

The Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards, run by the Ontario Community Newspapers Association (OCNA) received more than 120 nominations from across the province.

The other Junior Citizens are:

Reproduced from

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