Connection is my core value. It's where love resides. It's the birthplace of Purpose, Empowerment, Action, Compassion, & Equity; PEACE.
Hi, thanks for stopping by. :) I'm a mother, an educator, a PhD student, and most importantly (and most simply) a caring human being striving to advance a more equitable world while savouring this ride of life to the fullest. 'Wholehearted living, empowered giving and legacy building' is my ongoing life's work. My multi-passionate work integrates my interests in conscious living and well-being, equity and social-environmental justice, education (of adults and young people alike), leadership, and empowerment. As you'll read below, my personal, professional and academic stories weave these themes together and I'm continually learning and discovering more each day. I genuinely hope I can meet you on this journey.
Professional and academic background
(This is the formal intro that people read for my professional speaking engagements)
After completing her undergraduate degree in Psychology, and a Masters degree in Child Studies and Education, Akila thrived as a teacher in Ontario, Canada and as a teacher trainer and presenter, both locally and internationally. She has held numerous leadership roles in the areas of equity and well-being, is a champion for girls' empowerment, and her work was recognized with a nomination for the Ontario Teacher's Award for Teaching Excellence. She continues to advance her work through a PhD in Social Justice Education at the University of Toronto, serving on numerous non-profit Board of Directors, consulting and facilitation education workshops, while still teaching in Toronto schools. In her spare time she enjoys the arts and daily life as a mother to her two young children.
Training teachers and administrators in rural Uganda
In India, with my grandparents
Savouring this little guy
This is us :)
Grab a cup of tea and enjoy my story
Part 1: How it all began
I'm hurried into the backseat of the Maruti vehicle as I clench my Sony walkman and swing my pink Jansport backpack onto my jeans. The door closes abruptly and the cacophony of the sounds of Mumbai are temporarily muffled. Wide-eyed, I peer out of the window as a young girl knocks on the window. She is dirty, her hair knotted, her clothing torn, and she is holding a naked crying baby on her hip. We briefly lock eyes...she looks familiar--as if she could be me if things were just slightly different...or vice versa. And then the car jolts as it pulls away, honking incessantly as it meanders out of the airport lot, onto the main road.
It's December 1992 and I have just landed in India with my parents and brother after a tiring 2-day journey from Toronto, Canada. This is the trip we take every 2-3 years to visit my grandparents and extended family. My heart is suspended with a heightened sense of awe as we weave in and out of the chaotic traffic--a hodgepodge of cars, busses, people in bright clothing, and stray animals crossing the road. The soundtrack of vegetable hawkers, horns and the drone of the cows plays in the background as the car engine continues to rev. We whizz by slums, where I catch a quick glimpse of a naked toddler running between the tarp covered houses, and then pass by the commercial centres and school districts where men, women, girls and boys are on their way in uniform to their respective posts. And then the car finally stops at an intersection and I hear that familiar knocking on my window again. This time, it's an older woman, likely the same age as my grandmother. She looks wrinkly and worn and is missing many teeth. She too is holding a baby on her hip, begging. The awe quickly turns to confusion, sadness and disappointment. Disappointment in the injustice that human beings allow in this world. I wouldn't know it then, but these feelings in my heart begin to settle in more deeply, imprinting a crevasse to be filled gradually, many years later.
Hi, I'm Akila. I was born and raised in Toronto Canada by my incredible parents and alongside my brother. My parents immigrated to Canada in the 70's with very little in their pocket, but managed to provide a secure and flourishing life for me and my brother. We lived modestly (my father was the champion of frugal) but had everything we could ever want. Visiting India every few years was a juxtaposition of cultures that impacted my worldview and my heart, deeply. From childhood through to today, I've wanted nothing more than an equitable world , whilst continually savouring and being grateful for the wonders of life. Navigating and balancing this vision has been an ongoing and intentional lifelong journey. As an empath (and as a mother, as you'll read below) it has not been easy, but it has been a wholehearted journey and I've gained incredible skills along the way, which I am eager to share with you.
Part 2: Working with Children
Throughout my life I have worked with children. My first job ever was in the 7th grade, as a tutor for two little girls. Throughout my teens and young adulthood I taught gymnastics, dance and fitness, to children and adults. After completing my undergraduate degree in psychology, I took some time to volunteer at impoverished rural schools in India, then felt that education was a route and 'root' to follow. I then completed my Masters in Child Studies and Education (UToronto) and became a teacher while continuing to do some volunteer work abroad during my summers. After teaching for almost a decade I longed to gain a deeper understanding of the social justice issues that grabbed my attention from a young age. Now, I am integrating my passions in education and equity through a PhD in Social Justice Education (UToronto).
Becoming a mother to my two boys in 2013 and 2015 brought everything full circle. When I look into their eyes, I am filled with love and awe for all the wonder they hold, but I also feel some fear and sadness about the world which they have been brought into. Like many of the curious and sweet children I have taught over the years, my own children are now beginning to ask these familiar questions: "why can't gown-ups just get along?"; or "why are there people with no food, water or shelter?"; or "why are adults damaging our only planet, and why can't they change when the solution is so simple?". Indeed, these questions have literally been asked to me by various children for more than a decade, and underlying them is that same sense of disappointment that I felt when I was a child--the moment when the magic and bliss of the world starts to get clouded by the harsh truths of reality. However, the magic and wonder still exists, shining brightly behind those clouds; we just need to work together to uncover it.
Part 3: Leaving the next generation In Good Hands with the world and the world In Good Hands with the next generation
I'm optimistic that with all of the INCREDIBLE human creativity, innovation and compassion, we CAN make the world a more equitable place for our children and future generations. The first step is in the fundamental ways in which we relate to young people on both systemic and personal levels. BUT...we are tired and busy, we have our personal daily struggles to deal with and figuring it all out can be overwhelming. I say this because I know this too well. Although my coles notes journey written above may read as though it was woven together seamlessly and wrapped in a bow, it's all of the infinitesimal feelings and moments in between those major events that make up life. It has been a bumpy road to say the least. As an empath, the realities of the world can feel overwhelming. Motherhood has often been a lonely, exhausting and emotional journey too. Along the way, I've had health complications and lost some dear people in my life. Through it all however, (and as a result of it all), I've engaged in ongoing reflection (I love journalling), intentional meaning-making and mindful living practices, which have allowed me to connect the dots in my personal, professional and academic experiences.
This is why In Good Hands was conceived. Integrating my personal, professional and academic experiences, my hope is to offer you the tools and genuine support, to be an effective torchbearer for the young people in your life. I do not consider myself an expert. I am a lifelong learner and I feel a sense of responsibility to share what I have learned (which is a privilege and the cumulative investment of other people and systems supporting me) in collaboration with a unified community striving for a better world.
When I am not doing this work, you can find me going crazy dancing around my house (dance is food for my soul), being silly with my kids, home decorating, hosting get togethers with friends, and enjoying (and sometimes braving) daily life, hand-in-hand with my incredible husband, Bruce.
Connection is my #1 core value. It's where love resides. It's the birthplace of Purpose, Empowerment, Action, Compassion & Equity; PEACE. By connecting to our deepest essence, we can authentically connect to the wonders of life, to others, to the world at-large, to our ancestors who came before us, and to our duty (and legacy) towards those who come next. Connection is the nucleus of In Good Hands. I truly hope we can connect through our shared vision and co-create empowered change.
Thank you for reading my whole story! What's next?
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It all starts with mama's love
C'est moi...when I could still do that ;)