Facebooking why you do your civic duty

#IVoteBecause winner photo

Did you vote in the municipal election last fall? A masters student in Environment was awarded $2,000 last month for sharing his reasons for voting in a social media contest.

The City of Mississauga held an #Ivotebecause social media contest for youth ages 17-25 to share their reasons for voting in the October 2014 municipal election on various social media platforms. Using the hashtag #Ivotebecause, youth were encouraged to produce a written post, share a picture or create a video to explain their reasons for voting.

Rahul Mehta became involved with this contest because of his desire to be informed.

While we have many ways to improve our communities and foster sustainability, this contest was a refreshing way to remind my generation that we have a voice too. Our capacity to bring change and improvement to our city, even City Hall, is very much a real and tangible ability - one that is still lacking in many places around the world. – Rahul Mehta

Rahul was overwhelmed with the possibilities that this contest brought, with building stronger online connections and sharing his passion for voting. He engaged his family and friends through the contest – even getting some of his friends to participate themselves.

Rahul's photo collage submissionThe winners for the competition were chosen based on creativity, meaningfulness and social media reach. The panel of judges consisted of Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Metroland South editor-in-chief Patricia Lonergan, InSauga editor Khaled Iwamura, Peel District School Board student trustee Trevor Sookraj and city clerk Crystal Greer. As a result, Rahul was awarded first place for his post. Along with winning the contest, Rahul received $2,000 to put towards his education at the University of Waterloo. Second place was also awarded to UWaterloo student Angela Krone who took home $1,000. View the #Ivotebecause storify to see the winning entries.

First prize was certainly an honour and I am humbled that the panel of judges, representing some of the finest community and civic leaders in our city, chose my submission for such an accolade. In a time where technology can often cause more distraction than guidance, we need more tools to re-engage our fellow citizens in their communities and the politics which shape them. – Rahul Mehta

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