Loizza Aquino (@loizzaaquino)

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Suicide is deemed taboo to converse about even though every day, thousands of innocent people end up taking their lives all around the world, which is one person every 40 seconds. Unfortunately, out of these people, most of them are students. Research has revealed that suicide is the second leading cause of death among students. Whether it is because of studies or something else, youngsters have a lot on their plates with no one to talk to about it. Due to retaining it all within themselves, it usually keeps piling up till it ends up suffocating them. Thus, people have realized the importance of educating the world about mental health. Numerous individuals devote their entire lives to serve this cause with no personal motives. These people are worth talking about as they are our real saviors and the reason behind why some people are still with us. One of such heroic persons is Loizza Aquino.

Loizza is an award-winning mental health activist and motivational speaker, passionate about mental health, cyberbullying, gender equality, youth empowerment, and women’s empowerment. She is the founder of Peace of Mind Canada and co-founder of Student Mental Health Canada-Santé mentale étudiante Canada.

However, the origin of this beautiful journey began with something gut-wrenchingly tragedy, a loss of life to be specific. Loizza was fifteen when she lost her best friend Miguel to suicide. This news was the hardest thing to process for her, but it made her realize something as his suicide was one of fourth high school student suicides in Winnipeg within the span of one month. The realization was that her city is filled with students who lacked a safe space to talk about the effect that suicides had on them and the other mental health issues they endured.  As there is a saying: ‘you need darkness to see the stars shine,’ this tragic loss drove Loizza to create her non-profit organization in Winnipeg at the age of sixteen called Peace of Mind. The organization is youth-led, focusing on building compassionate communities in every part of Canada, in which everyone can comfortably share their mental health journey. Creating this foundation not only helped her heal by keeping his memory alive, but it also helped many others who were tiptoeing on the dark trail of self-harm.

Ever since the Peace of Mind started, Loizza has been pulling out all the stops to make her organization attain its goal. She has hosted countless events (in-person and virtual) in Manitoba’s capital, Winnipeg, which incorporated poetry nights, small concerts, stadium shows, and virtual workshops and conferences. Her foundation gained tremendous recognition and appreciation through her assiduous hard work and genuine motives behind the Peace of Mind. Because of her performance, Loizza received a full-ride $70,000 scholarship through Canadian bank TD Canada Trust to pursue post-secondary education, earning the TD Scholar title. Consequently, she moved out of Winnipeg to Toronto and is currently pursuing a major in mental health and international development studies from the University of Toronto. This shift also helped her expand her organization as she began hosting events in the largest city in the entire nation.

Because of how diligently Loizza invests her blood, sweat, and tear into her work, she is blessed by heavens above with innumerable opportunities and gratitude. One of them was when she was invited back to her hometown-Philippines, where she had the honor of meeting senior members of the administration, including the vice president. There she was also presented with an award for her advocacy initiatives and her immense desire to empower other youth, particularly female people of color, to create a difference. Another was when she received the Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award from RBC Royal Bank and Canadian Immigrant magazine. Furthermore, her entire story was shared by diverse organizations and media outlets coast-to-coast, even by the Canadian embassy in the Philipines. Her organization itself has also earned both local and national recognition for the work it continues to do for Canadian youth.

After reviving many youngsters, she intends to work for the United Nations and form mental health policies and programs across the world to help anyone in need anywhere.

“Finding the answer to why this is happening isn’t going to do as much as trying to create resolutions to make sure that this doesn’t happen again” are the words Loizza cast to being through her every action, choice, and behavior. Today, she is one of the reasons many people are still with a beating heart, and many feel safe talking about their mental health. Even though she has already achieved so much, there are still many keys to success left for Twenty-year-old Aquino to unlock. No matter who is content and proud of her, but one thing is for sure, Miguel would be on the top in that list.

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