About The Gifted Youth Committee
Regulated by the Gifted Youth Committee, the Gifted Youth Program serves as a framework for social and interest-specific opportunities arranged for young members of Mensa Canada (under 18 years of age).
The program started out as a social connection platform set up through an exclusive Facebook group for families of Gifted Youth; this Facebook group has continued to provide a space for parents and GYC committee members to connect and share resource links, as well as exchange ideas in the interest of our young members.
Over the next year, we are working on facilitating opportunities for children to explore their leadership potential by supporting them in arranging virtual gifted youth clubs (e.g. to conduct research, play chess, create /distribute comics, explore nature, partake in fun math problems, reading /reflecting on books of common interest, etc); furthermore, a mentorship program is in the works, whereby gifted youth may be connected to experts in their respective fields of interest.
Members that demonstrate the merits of strong leadership in the organization of gifted youth clubs will be eligible to receive Gifted Youth Leadership awards. With a focus on equity in access – taking into account location, health, and neurodiversity of our members across Canada – these programs are being arranged through virtual platforms (they will be accessible online).
If you are currently a member of Mensa under the age of 18, and you would like to propose a Gifted Youth club, please submit the following form: Gifted Youth Club Proposal Form
The Gifted Youth Committee (GYC)
Jasmine Kara - Gifted Youth Committee Chair
I joined Mensa in 2014, a year after my twins were born. Before applying, I remember looking at my little ones and thinking, “I wonder how they will form their understanding of the world around them.” That curiosity naturally brought me back to memories of my youth, and how I felt pretty alienated in how I learned about abstract concepts and interacted with the people around me. Although I had found compatible friends in gifted and high-achieving elementary/secondary school programs, as circumstance often dictates, the pressures of adulthood had led me to adopt a more “socially-accepted” persona within under-stimulating circles. I wanted to believe there was a socially “happily-ever-after” future for my little ones, and so I decided to give the Mensan circuit a shot. Upon admission, I found myself gratefully thriving amongst a humble and neurodiverse group of like-minded thinkers - some adventurous, others more passive; some ambitious, others self-content. The balanced dynamic was everything I needed to find myself, once again, and to be my true and best self for my kids.
As the Vice-Principal at Sidney Ledson Institute (a private Toronto elementary school founded by a member of Mensa, Ottawa), I have the opportunity to ensure a stimulating environment for gifted and high-achieving students, including those with developmental exceptionalities. It is tremendously rewarding to see a multi-exceptional child go from underperforming to winning awards and earning scholarships as they gain confidence; these kids need to be understood, they need patience, they need to be celebrated for every little achievement (these take a lot of effort!), and most importantly, they need to feel like they belong.
The Gifted Youth Committee has been working toward these same objectives of providing a stimulating and accepting environment for exceptional youth for many years; having joined the committee in late 2019, I am humbled to have the opportunity to continue serving this purpose at a national level.
Paul Tiege - Gifted Youth Committee Member
I am the father of daughters. Primarily, I am trying to be a good dad for my two daughters who are in elementary school. This uses up most of my energy and time, but when I’m not doing that I work as the manager of the applied research and innovation office at a Canadian college.
My inspiration for joining the GYC is the thought that there are brilliant kids out there who aren’t able to explore their potential. Watching a humanitarian crisis unfold in Syria a few years ago, I was thinking about some of those kids who are barely surviving in refugee camps. They will spend most of their youth just trying to stay alive. If they do, they will be mentally and physically changed for the rest of their lives. What if the next Einstein or Beethoven were among them? That would be lost to humanity forever. That situation is beyond my control to affect significantly, but I can take actions here at home. My hope is that this program will help all gifted youth in Canada, no matter what their socio-economic status, to thrive.
Cindy Phui - Gifted Youth Committee Member
My name is Cindy Phui and I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. As a child I was a quick learner, highly curious, keenly intense and perpetually pondering about the way our universe works. I knew I was different, and even though I navigated through public school and had many friends along the way, I always felt like an outsider. Fast forward many years and with the birth of my first child, I picked up a book on giftedness. It finally all made sense. I was different, but there is at least 2% of the population just as unique as I am. Over the next decade I had the opportunity to enroll all three of my children into a local gifted school. Through the school network, I learned about the unique support gifted children require. It made me realize that if I had that type of support as a young child, I might have become more than I am today, or atleast have gotten there quicker. I joined MENSA in 2016 and in 2018 started volunteering for the Gifted Youth Committee. My passion is helping children and families of gifted children get connected, sharing experiences and building awareness. I hope every gifted child has the opportunity to get the best support, allowing themselves to fulfill their own destinies. Although this sounds like a lofty goal, I'm sure many Mensans could appreciate that the gifted mind is often eager to strive far and beyond and to try to achieve what others may deem impossible.
Shannon Wong - Gifted Youth Committee Member
I joined MENSA Canada when I was 9. I am part of the Gifted Youth Committee (GYC) and the National Social Media Team (SMT). My role in the GYC is not only to provide more opportunities for youth and help build awareness of the Gifted Youth Group but to serve as a voice representing gifted youth across the country. I want to use my platform to paint a more complete picture of gifted youth; to talk about the unique experiences and challenges that we face. Gifted children are different and want to find a place where we can belong. As a gifted youth myself, I understand the need to connect with others like me. I have been using my perspective and my experiences to create programs and services that resonate to gifted youth like me, such as the MENSA Youth Discord, an online platform that is open to all MENSA youth a mari usque ad mare. In future, I hope to continue to provide more platforms, avenues, and opportunities for my youth peers to connect in a welcoming social, and intellectual environment.
Useful Resources on Gifted Youth
Below are links to articles about the definition or characteristics of gifted children.
- An Australian website that provides a basic definition and other useful information
- Basic definition with some useful links
- Definitions and characteristics of gifted individuals
- Characteristics, as well as scores, ranges and distribution
- Behaviours of gifted individuals
- Characteristics list broken down as it relates to age groupings