Interviewed by: Denise Ferreira, EIC
“There is a rare breed of people that go all in. They keep their word, they give it their all, they go the extra mile for those they care for” ~ unknown
These are the individuals that hardly receive recognition for all that they do, they sometimes don’t ever get back the same passion or effort that they give out and they are totally okay with that- it doesn’t change their purpose and it doesn’t stop them from continuing. These are the people we need to speak more of, show more of and the ones we need to take a minute to appreciate what they do and what they stand for.
I would like you all to meet Tiffany, a woman who devotes her time, care and passion to the youth of her community. A woman who believes it takes a village to raise children, and is a role model to so many young men and women.
Tiffany is the essence of body confidence and self-love, she puts it in a way that is just…simple. I have never met anyone like her- her vibe rubs off on you and you can’t even help it. Tiffany is a breath of fresh air!
Take a read and you’ll fall in love with Tiffany just as much as we did.
5 words that describe you best
This question is way more difficult than I thought it would be. Five words that I think describes me best would be Hardworking, Confident, Humorous, Intelligent, and Supportive.
In addition to working full-time at SickKids, you are heavily involved in your community, can you share a little bit about all the programs that you run and are a part of?
Majority of my upbringing has been in the Etobicoke-Lakeshore community (South Etobicoke). My community involvement began at the age of 15, where like most high school students, you are required to complete 40 hours of service to graduate. This was the beginning of the unbounded life commitment to my community. I was immersed into the SOUTH ETOBICOKE YOUTH ASSEMBLY aka SEYA, which is run out of LAMP Community Health Centre. From rallies to hosting fashion shows, I was present and proud to be involved in any way. Our voices were meant to be heard and LAMP Community Health Centre continues to be an outlet in the community which provides the youth with that platform. I am most known for my involvement in my Older Youth Drop-In Basketball program, which focuses on the 19- 29 age range. I’ve been involved with this drop-in program for 17 years!. My boys mean more to me than they will ever know. Perhaps they do know, as they approach me with anything and everything. The relationship I have with these men is so dear to me, it’s un-explainable. This program was created by Gavin Sheppard and Derek Jancar aka Drex, during the days of Inner-City Visions (now known as The Remix Project), focusing on allowing youth to engage in team building skills, as well as acquire and develop patience, determination and attention to detail with future opportunities and endeavours. Our community basketball court is our hub. It’s where we continue to spend endless hours, playing, talking, and at times fighting (haha), but it’s the one place that to this day lets you know you are HOME. Seeing more than half the youth participating in SEYA utilizing basketball, allowed us to tap into the other youth in the community and help gain the same skill sets taught within SEYA. Today, we now have two drop-in basketball programs, which are run by myself and two AMAZING men (very much Big Brothers to me, and to the youth) in our community, Duane Quashie and Dwane Abbott. Our program is one of the very few FREE drop- ins for 19 years and older participants, which is disappointing. Unfortunately, our city programs believe that at 19 years old (an adult in the eyes of the government), you don’t need assisted programming, which is statically a clear misjudgement.
I also assist in our annual drives, like our back to school initiatives and my ‘Help me, Help Them’ Drive. I collaborate with my co-workers at SickKids, people within my community and social circles to participate in this drive. We “adopt a family” and provide their immediate needs, as well spread holiday cheer to relieve seasonal pressures that many families feel.
Why is being involved with the Youth in your community so important to you?
I am a firm believer in the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”. This was made visible by several men and women within our community. For those who were involved within SEYA, you were under the wings of Jasmin Dooh and Denise Masters. Within the community, you had the mother’s; those who know my mother (Joan), THEY KNOW. These women were the backbone of the community. And as I’ve become older and continued my community service, I’ve come to realize that myself along with other women such as Chelsea Takalo, Arlene Mclean, and Amber Morely (I can list so many more), we are now the backbone of our community. We are always available, constantly outreaching, and continuously working to better our community.
You are a strong role model and voice when it comes to Body Positivity- what is your story? What has made you want to become a voice for all women?
Well, first things first, THANK YOU!!! I don’t think I really have much of a story in regards to being ‘Body Positive’ to be honest. I was raised by a strong independent woman, that’s it!
But all jokes aside, my mom is the reason behind my confidence. She is my biggest supporter and I secretly think she lives vicariously through me and my shenanigans (hahaha, love you mommy!).
I have been active my entire life with sports (soccer and basketball and I just started football, which is awesome by the way), but I’ve always managed to have people encourage me with my gym training and my eating (harder than one knows). So it eventually became second nature to me to train and try to eat well. Now, one will look at me and say, “you train and eat well?”, and without trying to sass anyone, my simple answer is yes. I have never trained to lose weight or become overly obsessed with what social media says I should look like, I train for my health- simple as that. I’m quick to let people know how lucky I am. I got what I got from my Big homie GOD, I don’t have to buy what I have, mine was custom made. I’m probably one of the most positive people when it comes to our bodies. As women, we get so caught up with our self -doubts and social media, that we don’t stop and truly admire ourselves, flaunt what you got, and “work it hunni!” Be proud of what you have. I know it’s easier said than done, but we all should fall in love with our flaws. I have scars all over my legs that I covered for many years to avoid questions, and now, I actually named one of them Beautiful. A typical conversation pertaining my scars sounds like this – “Omg!! What happened to your legs?!?” (Nonchalantly looks at legs because, well… did I shave today or not) “Ohh, that’s just Beautiful” END OF CONVERSATION. I don’t need to explain anything to you because, well, I’m so comfortable in my skin, that your validation is not needed. Our flaws is what makes us all so unique and beautiful. Imagine living in a world where we all looked and acted the same. What kind of life is that? That’s so boring. I wouldn’t be speaking to you about this at all right??
If there was one message you would want young women to hear- what would it be?
Positivity is in your mind and in your heart. The more you exude positivity, the more positive things will fall into your life. “Positive Mind, Positive Vibes, Positive Life”.
What does self-love mean to you?
Self-Love to me means you come first-pretty simple. Now, most people will say that you are being selfish when you say that. But I think when it comes to you, sometimes you do need to be selfish. You need to take care of your own desires, not sacrifice who you are to please other people.
Every year you are part of Carnival- how did you get into it? And we’d love to know why it is such a big part of you?
Ohh how I love Carnival. Carnival is actually a part of my culture. I am Canadian by birth, but my parents are from the twin isle of Trinidad and Tobago. I have been participating in carnival festivities since the age of two, where I first took part in the kiddies carnival in Toronto and there’s been no looking back. I would normally participate in full costume for both Trinidad carnival as well as Toronto Caribana (now known as Toronto Caribbean Carnival), but over the last 6 years, I’ve stopped directly participating in the Toronto Caribbean Carnival and I now do carnival makeup for other participants with my business partner, Nadine Loken and we are known as Precisely Our Passion. But don’t fret, you can count on seeing me in costume for the Trinidad carnival.
Favorite quote or words to live by
Dwell in Possibilities- Emily Dickinson
Because I Can- Tiffany Jiminez
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