TEDxRyersonU’s Finance Steering Lead, Shayan Yazdanpanah, sailed with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Kate on Oct. 1 to discuss mental health stigma. Yazdanpanah was one of 19 Jack.org members to spend time with the royal couple in Victoria, B.C.
Despite knowing about the meeting with Prince William and Kate months before, Yazdanpanah had to try his best to keep it a secret. When he shared the news with friends and family, most of them didn’t believe him.
As a Jack.org speaker, Yazdanpanah spoke in high schools about mental health. Jack.org was founded in 2013 and encourages students to speak at school events to increase mental health awareness.
The group of students underwent training prior to the meeting to learn about royal etiquette and handling the media. The students were split into groups and took turns sailing the boat and speaking with Prince William and Kate for 45 minutes.
Half an hour before the couple arrived Yazdanpanah began to feel nervous. The boat staff and founder of Jack.org helped everyone get comfortable and calm. Yazdanpanah recalls there being total silence when the royal couple came on the boat.
“No one wanted to risk anything,” said Yazdanpanah. “If you mess up with the royal couple, you’re forever going to be known as the guy to mess up with the royal couple.”
Once Kate spoke that everyone began laughing and talking.
The event captured the attention of news networks like CTV and Global News. It was an impactful experience for Yazdanpanah, who said,
“Although the average person might not care too much about it, there are still those people regardless of where they stand who care about our cause and want to make sure we live in a stigma free world for mental health.”
We are so proud of you Shayan! (aka Living Legend)
Article by Rasha
Photo via Shayan & jack.org