Amal Javed Abdullah, right, at her sister's graduation in pre-COVID times. Her desire to make a difference in her community led her to participate in the SFU Surrey Envision Financial Community Leaders to Ignite Change—or CLIC. It helped set her on a path of community involvement that will continue beyond her graduation.

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Graduate ‘CLIC’s with community to inspire change

October 22, 2020
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By Marianne Meadahl

At the start of her SFU studies, Amal Javed Abdullah’s desire to make a difference in her community led her to participate in a unique SFU initiative that inspires civic-mindedness. Her experience with the SFU Surrey Envision Financial Community Leaders Igniting Change—or CLIC—helped set her on a path of community involvement that will continue beyond her graduation this week.

Abdullah is one of a growing number of CLIC graduates—nearly 90 to date—who continue to have an impact on empowering their communities. The program will soon be accepting applicants for its eighth cohort, to be offered virtually in January 2021.

“It was important to me to get involved beyond my studies and I enrolled in CLIC right at the start,” says Abdullah, who has completed a bachelor of arts degree in French and sustainable development. With diverse interests, she also participated in SFU’s Health Change Lab and earned a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Abdullah participated in CLIC’s third cohort. The program began as a simple idea stoked by community players to engage and encourage ideas from civic-minded community members.

That led to a partnership between SFU Surrey, the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition and Envision Financial, a division of First West Credit Union. CLIC is designed to attract participants who are active, or wish to be involved, in making positive change in their community.

During 12 weekly sessions, participants from 16 years of age to retirees learn to become community leaders. Sessions include workshops, guest speakers and project proposals that participants present to the group.

For her project, Amal and her friends set up a panel and seminar on the Canadian-Muslim narrative, focusing on identity and representation for Muslim youth. Her sister Sarah, while in Grade 10, was also inspired to participate in CLIC, leading a project to empower a group of Surrey high school students to host their own community events.

Abdullah has since furthered her community outreach. Early on she became a staff member of Solid State Community Industries in Surrey, an initiative that builds worker co-operatives with youth from newcomer or migrant families. Youth gain training and leadership skills toward long-term economic self-reliance.

Abdullah continues to work with Solid State, which has since expanded and is mentoring more than 50 local youths. She hopes to stay involved after graduating.

“It’s so rewarding to be involved, especially when you see others become empowered,” she says.

CLIC director and university lecturer Kathleen Burke calls Abdullah’s community commitment an inspiration.

“CLIC attracts community-minded people of all ages, but it’s especially fulfilling to see young people so passionate about creating a better world for those around them,” she says.

“CLIC graduates like Amal are amazing ambassadors for change. They show how anyone with a desire to help better society can identify and then follow that path, and make that difference.”   

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