Toronto’s Top 20 under 20


In our special holiday edition, we celebrate the accomplishments ofthe GTA’s top tweens and teens. From star athletes to eco activists, these local youngsters prove they aren’t just kidding around. 

The social activist: Kourosh Houshmand
age 19

In high school, Kourosh Houshmand represented over 2.6 million students across the province as the vice-president of the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association. 

Now, the social activist is the founder of Solar for Life, an organization that donates solar lights to impoverished areas in townships of Durban and Johannesburg, South Africa. He says the families save 30 per cent of their income that would be spent on kerosene and candles. 

“That translates to students in off-grid areas who can now study when night falls,” he says. 


The next David Suzuki: Hannah Alper
age 11

There aren’t many 11-year-olds who have toured North America to speak in front of over 20,000 of their peers, but that’s what makes Hannah Alper so extraordinary.

Alper started her blog two years ago to encourage people to take care of the environment, and it quickly gained popularity.

“I was just thinking about picking up pieces of litter,” she says. “I believe that little things add up to make a big difference.” 

That’s the message with which she’s been inspiring youth across the continent as a We Day speaker.


The inventor: Deep Prasad
age 18

If you’re looking for a way to prohibit your appliances and electronics from using standby power when they’re powered off, Deep Prasad has an invention for that.

The University of Toronto student , along with his younger brother, developed the intelligent adapter while in high school.

Since then, he’s churned out about eight other inventions and says he sees himself becoming an entrepreneur in the neuro science field. He’s currently working on a robot car that takes bluetooth signals from a headband that senses brain waves.


The prodigy: Mercedes Cheung
age 12

Mercedes Cheung first picked up a violin 10 years ago. The remarkable part is that she’s only 12 years old and touted as one of the best violinists of her generation.

“I had my first recital, when I was six years old, at Markham Theatre,” says Cheung. She performed a concert program for two full hours, all from memory.

Cheung is also the youngest violinist to perform a solo recital concert at Carnegie Hall and was invited to play violin alongside one of the foremost and legendary violinists in the world, Shlomo Mintz, in Switzerland.


The future filmmaker: Sara Waisglass
age 16

A 16-year-old with a decade of acting roles under her belt, Sara Waisglass plays Frankie Hollingsworth on Degrassi: The Next Generation.

“I never knew what I wanted to be. Most kids knew they wanted to be an astronaut or something, and I thought acting was a way to do it all,” says Waisglass.

Now she attends Claude Watson School for the Arts at Earl Haig Secondary School where she chose film as her major.

“I’m learning how to produce, direct, edit, film and write. I really love having both experiences,” she says. 


For the rest of the Top 20 under 20 click below:

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