As an at-risk youth, Joe Roberts the CEO of Mindware Design, began his journey as a homeless 19 year-old pushing a shopping cart around on the streets, collecting bottles to pay for his drug dependency. Although Roberts was struggling, he committed to changing his life. He eventually attended college and became a successful businessman, which put him on the cover of MacLean’s magazine, a popular Canadian magazine reporting on politics, pop culture, and current events. Despite his success he never forgot where he started.
“I made a promise on a street corner 25 years ago that if I ever got a second chance at life, I would pay it forward,” Roberts said.
In 2016 Roberts started The Push for Change, a 17-month trek across Canada pushing a custom-made shopping cart in hopes of raising money and awareness for at-risk youth, preventing their transition into homelessness.
He started May 1st, 2016 at St. John’s Newfoundland and ended September 29th, 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia.His pay it forward journey brought him to schools, he mobilized communities, and brought stakeholders together to brain storm a prevention model, while supporting the emergency services sector.
He walked 9,064 km, drank 2070 shots of espresso, and ate 517 bowls of oatmeal along the way, while raising over $550,000 and engaging with over 450 schools and community events. Money raised went to a school based youth homeless prevention program called The Upstream Project, developed by the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.
“The shopping cart and the walk across Canada (are) to raise awareness so that no kid in this country ends up on the street, pushing a shopping cart,” Roberts said.
As a result of his walk to end homelessness the city of Vancouver released a proclamation claiming September 29th as The Push for Change Day.
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