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Speaker: Cheryl Perera

Cheryl Perera Cheryl Perera is an accomplished children’s rights activist, a captivating speaker and the Founder and President of OneChild, the premiere organization empowering a movement of children and youth taking action against child sex slavery. Her extraordinary contributions to protect children, and her high innovation, achievement, and leadership have earned her honours such as the World of Children Founder’s Award, and distinguished her as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100, and Canada’s Top 20 Under 20.

Cheryl became socially involved at age 16, after reading about the exploitation of children, for a high school project. What she read filled her with anger, determination and resolve. Eager to take action, she traveled to her native country – Sri Lanka in 2002, to investigate the exploitation of children. Wanting to get an insider’s look into the child sex industry, she participated in a treacherous undercover operation, as the decoy – the main role of a 15 year-old child prostitute, that led to the successful apprehension of a 40 year -old child sex offender. Her breadth of knowledge and bravery attracted the attention of dignitaries, and she was recognized by the Sri Lankan Government, having been offered a placement of one year at the Presidential Secretariat to serve as the President’s Nominee on Child Protection, at the age of 17.

These experiences led her to begin a unique education-driven initiative to mobilize the Canadian Travel and Tourism Industry to take a stand against child sex tourism. What began as a one-child initiative grew to involve hundreds of Canadian youth. At age 19, she established OneChild and under her leadership, the youth succeeded in negotiations with Air Canada, to screen their youth-created in-flight video warning against child sex tourism. The project was launched in 2005 on all domestic and international flights, the only one of its kind in Canada and the second in North America, with a viewership of 22 million passengers to date.

She has overseen major partnerships with international organizations such as the Peoples Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance Foundation in the Philippines, and raised over $180,000 to construct a rehabilitation centre, and offer support services, and administer remedial programs for children exploited in the sex industry. Cheryl has also traveled around the globe, meeting with and speaking out for the protection of children. A sought-after dynamic orator, she actively addresses UN organizations, government bodies, business groups, educators, students, and the media on the importance of children’s rights, social responsibility, and volunteerism.

Cheryl now 25, holds an Honours BA in Ethics, Society, and Law, and Political Science from the University of Toronto. A recipient of many prestigious national and international awards, Cheryl has broken tremendous ground to turn the tables on the child exploitation industry where few would dare to tread.

Topics: Ethical, Moral & Spiritual Issues; Human Rights; Motivation and Inspiration; Education and Family


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Top Speaking Topics

Break the Chains: Creating a World Fit for Children

The time has come to replace apathy and ignorance with resolve and action.

Child sex slavery is a heinous and fundamental violation of children’s rights, affecting two million children.  Raped for profit, sold as sexual souvenirs, groomed on the internet, and trafficked across borders, children suffer life-long, often life-threatening physical and psychological damage. 

Cheryl will take you on an eye-opening journey through the red-light districts, brothels and dirt roads where the world’s throw-away children live and work and tell personal stories of perseverance and resilience among these children that testify to the strength of the human spirit. Listen to Cheryl’s inspiring story of bravery and sacrifice as she battles the child sex trade; learn about simple, yet concrete actions that can create a world where children are free from exploitation and free to reach their potential as contributing members of society; and hear her demonstrate how anyone—irrespective of their age—can join the struggle.

It Starts with YOUth!: Sparking a Generation of Pint-Sized Do-Gooders

This is the age of the kid.  And we’re not just talking about wunderkinds, but regular kids.  With the education, social connectivity, and technology to change the world like no generation before, each and every young person can be a dynamic force to be reckoned with…and still go to prom.  But how can we harness the power of YOUth?

A powerful presentation for youth, educators, and parents alike…

Unsung heroes: Taking Advantage of Girl Power

The girl child is the future mother nurturer, the first educator, and the woman who can impact the destiny of civilization.  Such an irony then, that when proven that entire societies develop when girls and women are empowered to contribute fully as community members; ensuring the wellbeing of the girl child remains one of the greatest challenges facing humankind.  Through global statistics and moving stories of girls emerging as heroes and change agents, Cheryl will spotlight the low status afforded to girls today and despite this, the courage, strength and leadership they have shown in the face of hardship; and the necessity of investing in girl power.