She overcomes heart condition, now a leader through volunteer work

Dennis Hanagan —

Kelly 2

Kelly Lovell

Completing her final three years of high school from hospital gave Kelly Lovell time to reflect on what she wanted to do with her life.

Today, the once-shy and now bubbly 22-year-old from Church-Wellesley is a motivational speaker and founder of My Clean City that pairs volunteer youths with business’ environmental projects. They also earn clean credits to redeem for merchandise.

“I was really shy, quiet, an introvert. And now I’m probably the most energetic and bubbly person you’ll ever meet. I have a knack for motivating and engaging people,” she said in an interview.

Raised in Kitchener, Lovell now resides with her uncle in Toronto where she and My Clean City work with the YMCA, the city’s parks department, H&M, and Staples getting teens involved in cleaning up their communities and recycling projects.

Seeming setback became a boost for her future

She started MCC at age 19. After being active in school programs, Lovel found herself in hospital with a heart problem. Sometimes it beat just 30 times a minute.

But what seemed like a setback turned out to be a boost for her future. When released from hospital she took to volunteer work to replace the activities she loved doing in school.

“I used to classify and describe myself—who I was—based on those (high school) involvements. I didn’t really know who I was deep down. Through volunteerism you can recreate who you are. I was able to rebuild who I was,” she explains.

Today, even at her young age, she walks confidently into boardrooms to pitch her MCC work.

“It’s quite an interesting dynamic when you walk into a boardroom filled with CEOs and executives from some of the top global brands,” she says. “You do get some double takes. Sometimes you’re questioned on your capabilities. They’re not taken seriously and you really have to hold your own.”

Holding her own wouldn’t be hard, considering back in Kitchener she motivated more than 1500 high school students to take part in charity work. For that she was recognized as a Provincial Change the World Youth Ambassador.

She’s been named to Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 and was interviewed by Harbourfront Theatre Chief Executive and Order of Canada member William Boyle for that. In December she was posted among Canada’s most powerful women.

What motivates a motivator? For Lovell it’s getting young people to realize their capabilities. Take volunteering with Evergreen, for example.

“They (volunteers) get to see the impact they have in their communities. When you spend three hours planting a tree you realize you reduced pollution by X amount. That’s significant.”

“For a young person to know “wow, I made that contribution on my immediate environment.’ It’s something quite empowering.”

And when one person has a rewarding enlightenment word gets around. “I motivate myself on the ripple effect I have,” says Lovell who wants to pursue a master’s degree in science.

For more information visit or twitter @kellyalovell.