Victor Inspires Youth

Nov. 10, 2009, 6:04 p.m. (ET)

A Paralympic gold medalist, World Champion and World Cup overall titlist, Stephani Victor (sit-ski; Park City, UT) is the perfect example of what it means to overcome and achieve. It is her experience in the field that made her the perfect role model for Spirit Awakening, a charitable cause she actively participates in.

"Awakening is about the awakening of one's true own identity," said Victor of the organization that works with at risk youth and young adults through the arts. "It's a foundation in LA that's run by a dear friend of mine, Akuyoe Graham. She is a native of Ghana, Africa where she was born and lived for the first few years of her life and then moved to London for primary school and then ended up in New York at the Performing Arts Academy. She then moved to LA and Spirit Awakening became a one woman show that she wrote and performed."

According to Victor, the show originally revolved around Graham becoming one with herself and what that was like in Africa, New York, London and LA, before it became a foundation where youth were presented the same opportunity of discovery.

"This foundation is all because she wanted to give back and provide opportunities for people who may not otherwise have opportunities to be able to discover their true authentic self," Victor said. "She developed this program that she takes into the camps and she works with the incarcerated youth through writing and performance, acting or music."

Through speech, meditation, improvisation and creative writing, participants in the Spirit Awakening camps are able to build self esteem and character.

According to Victor, her ability to relate to the people in the program is what makes Spirit Awakening especially important to her.

"After my accident happened, I lost both my legs and I had to re-enter society and look for second chances," Victor said. "So in some ways I really identify with these youths and the need for being seen for who you truly are and not for what has happened to you or what you have been through."

Hands on experience has allowed Victor to see the generation of material performed by program participants in LA.

"I go with her to the camps to work with the youth. I've been involved with performances that she has done throughout LA where the young women who have gone through this Spirit Awakening program put together a performance for an audience," Victor said. "It's been a very powerful moving experience to see that kind of transformation in person resonate into an artistic performance."

For more information on Spirit Awakening visit Akuyoe Graham's website at To donate to the cause the public can purchase Victor's personal blend of coffee at and a portion of the proceeds will go directly to Spirit Awakening.