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Movement for Change – Ben walks the walk for YMCA Sprott House

14 September 2016 - by Talía Noya
On Friday, September 23 Ben Pobjoy will be walking continuously for 125 km from Toronto to Buffalo, New York, to benefit YMCA Sprott House. This walk, which will take around 25 hours to complete, is his first self-initiated fundraising project — and it’s already generating lots of buzz, both for Sprott House and for Ben himself. Even Town Centre MPP Glen Murray and Minister of Health Dr. Eric Hoskins have shown their support!

Ben’s Journey

Since early 2015, Ben has walked 9,500 km, which has allowed him to train both his body and mind to endure long-distance treks. Surprisingly, rigorous exercise wasn’t part of his life a few years ago, but New Year’s 2015 was a turning point.

“I had blown through every excuse and just arrived at a point in my life where I knew I had to make a change,” explains Ben. “My personal health was slipping that inspired me to start living more responsibly.”

Before and after photos of Ben Pobjoy after his 100 lb weight lossWalking seemed like an activity Ben could easily turn into a habit. He has since lost 100 lbs and adopted a healthier lifestyle. According to Ben, when it comes to healthy living, the key is to find the glove that fits. Apart from exploring his city by foot, he also enjoys swimming and boxing.

Life-Changing Movement

Ben has had the chance to travel around the world, and on his walks across countless cities, he noticed a common thread: poverty is prevalent everywhere and disproportionately affects marginalized groups.
“I wanted to convert my physical movement into social movement by fundraising for one of these affected groups in my hometown,” remarks Ben. “When I read about the huge amount of effort that went into launching Sprott House’s transitional housing program for LBGTQ2SA youth, I felt a moral obligation to walk for it. It’s a crucial safe haven for some young people in my city who really need it, and if I can help sustain it, I should.”

Ben has already surpassed his goal of $2,500 and continues collecting funds for Sprott House. The YMCA of Greater Toronto has been blown away by the support.

“Youth living in poverty or experiencing homelessness, especially LGBTQ2S youth, are often not acknowledged,” says Kate Miller, director of YMCA Sprott House, “so it’s affirming when someone sees them, and sees the need for support. To go out and do something about it, bringing other donors into the fold, showing their support for this program, and the young people who live here, is remarkable.”


Queer youth face high rates of adversity, and are more likely to be homeless. But even in shelters, where violence and stigma also exist, they are an underserved community. YMCA Sprott House came about to fill this gap in supportive programming. It is the first of its kind to open in Toronto and is the largest across Canada.

Currently, 25 LGBTQ2SA youth call Sprott House home. It’s a safe space where they have the opportunity to get back on their feet and work with case managers to set life goals in motion. The transitional housing program celebrates all identities and aims to foster independence.

Ben walking on the street by a brick building“You can — and should — be steadfast in being true to yourself as well as the life you want to live. You owe this to yourself,” says Ben when asked about thoughts he’d like to share with Sprott residents. “Know that you’re one of a kind and have the agency to shape the world you want to live in, with your actions and your behaviour.”


Follow Ben’s walk live on his Instagram account and by tracking #StepUpForSprott. To support Ben’s cause, you can donate up until September 25th.


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