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South Asian women breaking barriers: Kiran Toor

Darpan News Desk Darpan, 21 Mar, 2023
  • South Asian women breaking barriers: Kiran Toor

"A woman can be strong yet vulnerable, resilient but empathetic. As a woman, I want to be true to myself and those around me. I have the power to understand myself, accept myself and make this world a more welcoming and accepting place for all."-Kiran Toor, President, Kids Play Youth Foundation.

Kiran Toor is one of those rare individuals who discovered her calling early in life. As a daughter of immigrant parents from India, she found her mentor in Kal Dosanjh, a veteran police officer with the Vancouver Police Department, who motivated her to be a part of something bigger than herself. Thus began her journey with the Kids Play Youth Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Kal that allows youth to become involved in sports and other recreational programs, steering them away from drugs and gang violence.

As president of the organization, Kiran collaborates with leaders and volunteers in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto in Canada; Punjab in India; Columbia; and Uganda, who help facilitate multiple programs across six streams, which include sports, mentorship, education, counselling & mental health, environment, and community engagement. “We want to provide creative outlets to the youth to give them a sense of belonging and self-worth. To ensure that they come on board, we remove all financial barriers – for instance, we organize free sports coaching after school, mentorship programs during lunchtime, and community forums on a range of subjects, such as drug abuse, bullying, etc., which double up as platforms for receiving scholarships just upon showing up,” emphasizes Kiran.

The organization also supports and offers free counselling to women undergoing post-partum depression so that strong mothers can raise infants and children since growing up in dysfunctional families is one of the primary reasons why kids fall into the trap of drug abuse and gang violence. 

Until now, the Kids Play Foundation has supported over 100,000 youth who have undergone multiple programs with the organization free of cost. “We believe in the adage that it takes a village to raise a child, and we are that village,” she says. 

At this moment, Kiran is busy preparing for the Mental Health Gala on May 5th at the Aria Banquet Hall. Through the event, the organization aims to raise funds from the community to help support its multiple programs and review and share its successes and failures from the previous years. 

Not the one to be deterred by either, Kiran has learnt to take both success and failure in her stride. Raised by her maternal grandmother in Himachal Pradesh, India, she is mindful of not letting her ego get in the way of her work and always reminds herself to be grateful. She considers all the wonderful people around her her biggest superpower and aspires to continue learning and giving back to the community.

Q&A

What does being a woman mean to you? 

A woman can be strong yet vulnerable, resilient but empathetic. As a woman, I want to be true to myself and those around me. I have the power to understand myself, accept myself and make this world a more welcoming and accepting place for all. 

What has been your most significant achievement? 

Understanding and accepting that I am not perfect. Knowing I will make mistakes and that is the only way to learn. Learning to be kind to myself; giving myself the respect I want to give others. We are all seeking a sense of belonging, and my KidsPlay family has accepted me; now, it is my job to ensure I make this platform both inclusive and welcoming. 

 
 
 
 
 
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What or who inspires you to do better each day?

My loved ones. Fortunately, I have the most beautiful family at home and KidsPlay Foundation. We work hard for each child participating in our programs to keep them on the right path. We recognize that their social circumstances, family environment, or mental health may not be “ideal,” which motivates me to work harder every day. Their resilience inspires me to keep on going. Also, getting direction from my brother, mentor, and role model to many, Kal Dosanjh. He created this platform and allowed me to grow with it. 

What is your advice to women who wish to follow your path? 

Just do it. You don’t always need a plan or have everything in order. Embrace the spontaneity and make this a place for all of us to belong. Strong women have raised me, and I continue to surround myself with resilient women. I have learned from my Nani (maternal grandmother) and mother that if you don’t see the path, start paving it yourself. Also, be kind, love yourself, and go easy on yourself. 

What is your success mantra? 

“Sarbat Da Bhala” 

Photo: A Master Media

A Huge Thank You To All Our Valuable Sponsors for making the Gala Possible!!!  

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