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Vinita Puri | Toronto | Open To Possibilities

Registered Social Worker, Mediator, Educator, Coach and Consultant

As a child, I knew I was different. I had difficulty opening my eyes fully, especially when there was any form of glare or light. Students and teachers would ask me why I couldn’t open my eyes. It was hard for me to explain my condition – a congenital birth defect known as Anaridia. I was a shy kid and kept to myself. I couldn't participate in most school sports like baseball or soccer. Everyone seemed to have friends except me, which led to bullying. Classmates laughed at me, mocked me, and physically assaulted me. I encountered racism and discrimination, became increasingly depressed, and struggled with low self esteem. My teachers were doubtful that I would ever graduate high school because I lacked social and cognitive skills. My parents felt helpless and wanted to support me but didn't know how. Then something miraculous happened in my final year of high school (1986). My ophthalmologist referred me to get a low vision assessment. Through the Assistive Devices Program (ADP), I received funding for a scanner, computer and printer. I also attended technology training courses and was introduced to a DAISY (the Digital Accessible Information System) player which could read textbooks to me. These technological marvels made it easier for me to achieve academic success because I could now digitally magnify, read and manipulate text.

My early childhood experiences of bullying strengthened my resolve to prove others wrong. As a result, I've excelled professionally and personally. I'm a Registered Social Worker and work in the restorative justice and alternative dispute resolution field. I'm also pursuing my PhD in Psychology – focusing my research on assistive technology that supports individuals with low vision who live with depression/anxiety. With the growth and development of assistive technology over the years, I continue to benefit from Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada and the CNIB Foundation. I am proud to be an ambassador and advocate. These organizations have provided me with the necessary skills and resources to realize my full potential and achieve more than I could ever imagine.

As an Organizational Wellness Consultant with the Workplace Interventions Division of Homewood Health Inc, I provide organizational assessments and consultations and as well as mediation and coaching services to employees and management teams. I also serves as a Clinical Panel with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL). In this role, I conducts clinical investigations on all family law matters related to custody/separation/divorce matters. On a regular basis, I provide mentoring, coaching, and consulting services to support organizations like the National Collaboration for Youth Mental Health, Ontario Heroes, LEA International Foundation (LIF), Pink Thursday and Punjabi Community Health Services. The City of Mississauga recognized me on April 21, 2021 as a COVID Hero for my commitment and service to community-based initiatives.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your pursuits?

How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

My family has been the most influential factor in my success. My parents and grandparents always encouraged me to fulfill my highest potential

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?

I could never have predicted my success...I exceeded my own expectations. I wish I never doubted myself and my abilities when I was younger

What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?

Advice for upcoming students is to stay open to possibilities. Don’t limit your own potential by doubting yourself


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