Alberta Government Shines Spotlight on Great Kids
June 22, 2008
Outstanding children and youth inspire Albertans through courage, leadership and compassion
Edmonton… Sixteen Alberta children and youth received 2008 Great Kids Awards today for the positive difference they make in the lives of others at home, at school and in their communities.“I am truly inspired by the incredible achievements of these young Albertans,” said Stelmach. “Alberta’s Great Kids have displayed determination, compassion and generosity beyond their years, and it is an absolute privilege to honour them with this award.”
Albertans nominated more than 450 children and youth for the annual award. The Alberta government recognized this year’s recipients for outstanding contributions including fundraising, volunteering in their communities and lending helping hands to friends and family members.
“The positive impact these kids have made on Alberta’s communities is immeasurable,” said Tarchuk. “Our 16 recipients and the hundreds of children and youth nominated have gone above and beyond to make a difference for others.”
This is the ninth year the Government of Alberta is honouring great kids across the province. Great Kids Award recipients are a diverse group of children and youth between the ages of five and 18 who show determination, generosity, leadership and compassion. Recipients were selected by a review panel that included community members, teachers and government staff.
Each Great Kids Award recipient receives a prize package, which includes a computer courtesy of IBM, hotel accommodations courtesy of Fantasyland Hotel and attractions passes from West Edmonton Mall. All eligible nominees receive an award certificate from the Minister of Children and Youth Services.
Backgrounder: Biographies of 2008 Great Kids and highlights of their accomplishments.
Media inquiries may be directed to:
Alberta Children and Youth Services
June 22, 2008
2008 Great Kids Award recipients
Five- to eight-year-old category:
Josilynn Dahl – Age 5 – Gleichen
Josilynn displayed her passion for helping animals at a young age. When she was only three-and-a-half, she helped rescue a trapped litter of newborn puppies from a 40-foot storm culvert. Now five years old, Josilynn displays her compassion for abused, injured and sick animals every day at the Oops a Dazy Rescue andSanctuary. She helps each animal, providing them comfort with kisses and cuddles. Josilynn hopes to continue her work helping animals in the future and aspires to become a veterinarian when she grows up.
Jaron Chalifoux – Age 5 – High Level
Jaron is a fun-loving, thoughtful and curious boy from the Dene Tha’ First Nation. He is always asking questions about his culture, his family and the world in general. One morning, he saw a program on TV about sponsoring children in developing countries. Once he learned about the difficulties facing these children, he decided to sponsor a child with his monthly allowance and by raising money doing extra chores. Jaron is now the proud sponsor of an eleven-year-old boy in Indonesia. He saves every penny he earns to help this boy have a better life. When he is older, Jaron hopes to save enough money to go to Indonesia and meet his new friend.
Stephen McPhee – Age 6 – Airdrie
In 2006, when Stephen heard about homeless children and youth living in Calgary, he wanted to help.� He collected 15 backpacks, filled them with necessities and toys and donated them to Inn from the Cold. The next winter, he topped that by collecting, filling and donating 150 backpacks to the shelter. Despite being diagnosed with autism, Stephen has not let social and sensory challenges hold him back. He has shown tremendous bravery approaching strangers and addressing the media to promote his cause. Stephen’s enthusiasm and compassion have inspired the whole community. On Christmas Eve 2007, a number of volunteers joined Stephen to deliver more than 250 backpacks to Inn from the Cold. Stephen is an inspiration to all Albertans, reminding us that sometimes “you have to dream out loud.”
Brooklyn Boyko – Age 7 – Edmonton
One quality everyone mentions when they think of Brooklyn is empathy. When she sees someone else in need, she helps them and inspires others to make a difference.� Brooklyn started a tradition of donating all of her birthday gifts to charities like the Stollery Children’s Hospital, while challenging others to do the same. Brooklyn also displayed her generosity by collecting over 200 jackets with her sister for the Coats for Kids campaign and by cutting off her long hair and donating it to cancer patients through the Angel Hair for KidsProgram. Brooklyn turns her passion into action and is an inspiration to others.
Nine- to 12-year-old category:
Cassia Schaar – Age 11 – Sherwood Park
Cassia had an extremely ambitious goal: raise enough money to buy one stable and home for an African family and outfit an entire African school with supplies. To reach her goals, she has canvassed the community for donations, sacrificed her Christmas and birthday presents and collected money she gets from babysitting. One of her most successful fundraisers has been her Shades of Hope program where Cassia exchanges pieces of her original artwork for donations.� Cassia has met many of her goals and continues to donate to this noble cause. She hopes to one day become an architect to design and build homes for people in developing nations.
Carter Buchanan – Age 11 – St. Albert
Carter is the kind of child who isn’t afraid to be different. His teachers knew he was a confident and kind leader at school, but were amazed when he turned his love of kayaking into a fundraising event – a 10km kayak ride down the Sturgeon River for the Youth Emergency Shelter Society. Carter contacted the media for support and Mountain Equipment Co-op for materials. In all, Carter helped raise more than $2,000. Carter continues to amaze his parents with his problem-solving and has recently sent designs for fire-fighting water bombers to Jasper National Park and designs for armoured vehicles to the Minister of National Defence.
Brody Chapman – Age 11 – Eckville
Helen Keller once wrote, “If you keep your face to the sunshine, you cannot see the shadows.” This is a perfect quote to describe Brody. Despite being diagnosed with Lennox-Gastraut syndrome at birth and leukemia last spring, Brody constantly puts his challenges second to the needs of others. After discovering the joy of scrapbooking while in the hospital, Brody decided to share his favourite activity with other sick kids. That’s when Brody began his Scrapping with Cancer project which collects donations to buy scrapbook kits for children with cancer. His goal is to give a kit to every child diagnosed with cancer in 2008. Brody says that if he can’t make them better, at least he can make them feel better.
Destiny Alexander – Age 12 – Fort McMurray
Destiny is blessed with wisdom and maturity beyond her years and is a natural peacemaker. One of eight children in her home, Destiny helps out by doing chores and helping others with schoolwork and working through problems. She participated in a six-week Community Policing Program where she job-shadowed police officers and learned how they help the community. Destiny used her peacemaking skills to help stop bullying. When she saw one of her peers being bullied at school, she worked her way into the circle, calmly talked to everyone involved and broke up the conflict. Destiny’s maturity, concern for others and courage to stand up and stop bullying in her community are simply outstanding.
13- to 15-year-old category:
Kyle McDonald – Age 13 – Edmonton
When Kyle asked his parents if he could play community football for the West Edmonton Raiders two years ago, they were stunned and not sure how to respond. Although he was a fit young man and old enough to play, they still had one concern: Kyle is legally blind. His parents contacted the organization and spoke to the head coach. The coach saw Kyle’s potential, welcomed him and made him a full member of the team. In the past two years, Kyle has become an incredible role model to his teammates, demonstrating excellent sportsmanship. Near the end of the 2007 season, Kyle’s dream came true as he ran the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. Kyle’s strength, courage and character are an inspiration to others.
Brooke Lovdahl – Age 15 – Whitecourt
Brooke has been making a difference in her community since the age of nine through her volunteer work at the local auxiliary store, the Boys and Girls Club and the senior citizen visitation program. Brooke is also the vice-president of the Students of Strength group, which encourages youth leadership in the community. When she isn’t promoting youth participation or planning community events, she acts as the youth representative for the Drug Awareness Coalition. Brooke is also working with the mayor of Whitecourt to form the first Youth Town Council. She is a wonderful role model for youth in her community and across Alberta.
Kimberly Carson – Age 15 – Olds
People who know Kim describe her as a strong leader, a wonderful student and an excellent public speaker. When Kim was nine years old, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her treatments had just finished when her older sister was diagnosed with acute Hodgkins lymphoma. Kim supported her mother and sister through the radiation and chemo, while still finding the inner strength to excel in school. And when her mother was diagnosed with terminal tonsillar cancer in 2005, Kim took the responsibility as a caregiver at home and became her mother’s voice when she could no longer speak. Unfortunately, Kim’s mother passed away last February, but Kim found the courage to speak at her mother’s funeral. Kim’s character, caring heart and strong voice are what make her so special.
Shay Walker – Age 15 – Edmonton
When Shay arrived at a Calgary youth-serving organization, she was a picture of silence and sadness. The traumatic home life she had experienced in her childhood made her resistant to those who tried to help her. Slowly, with the help of staff and other youth, Shay began to come out of her shell, trust others and hope for the future. She became a peer mentor for other youth and began to focus her energy back into school and community programs. Shay would often explain the dangers of drugs and encourage other youth to make positive choices, as overcoming her own drug use was a major success in her life. She put her talent and determination to use by becoming a co-facilitator of a life-skills program and a leader among her peers. Becoming the amazing young woman she is today has been a difficult journey, but Shay has overcome challenges with inner strength and a determination to succeed. Shay currently attends school in Edmonton and continues to be a positive role model and mentor for other youth.
16- to 18-year-old category:
Brandon Stewart – Age 16 – High Prairie
Brandon has shown great strength, leadership and resiliency in his 16 years. Having overcome a difficult childhood, Brandon is a volunteer at an elementary school and a member of his high school’s student government. He has a passion for educating others about the dangers of substance abuse and is a representative of the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission’s Provincial Youth Advisory Council. This year, as a member of the council, Brandon designed an information pamphlet that is now handed out at AADAC presentations to youth. Brandon is a positive role model for youth in his community and across Alberta.
Jane Wu – Age 17 – Calgary
Jane is a born leader with tremendous drive and a caring spirit. In early 2007, Jane approached the TELUS World of Science in Calgary to host a conference called Beauty and Brains. She wanted to help educate young women ages 12 to 17 about their career options in science, engineering and business. To make the conference a reality, she brought together and motivated a team of more than 20 youth volunteers and raised several thousand dollars from sponsors. At the event, Jane helped collect hundreds of dollars in donations for the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. Jane has since been offered sponsorship for future conferences and an invitation to expand the idea into the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.
Kristena Burkin – Age 17 – Fox Creek
Kristena has made an incredible impact on her town through her compassion for those less fortunate. For more than eight years, Kristena has collected items for Operation Christmas Child by filling hundreds of shoeboxes with gifts and necessities and donating them to children in developing countries. She has inspired her whole community to help with her cause, bringing volunteers together to fill 600 shoeboxes. This past Christmas, Kristena traveled to Argentina to personally deliver the gift boxes and make the Christmas wishes of hundreds of children come true. Her passion and dedication to helping children in need makes Kristena a Great Kid.
Jared Fenwick – Age 17 – Calgary
Jared is a kind, supportive role model who has touched the lives of those who know him. Jared showed tremendous leadership drafting a funding proposal to Child and Youth Friendly Calgary, entitled Operation Reinstate Busted Fence, to help raise funds to rebuild the fence at a local youth shelter. With the success of his proposal and the support of a local radio station, Jared helped raise $1,100 to help rebuild the fence. Jared was also a major contributor to The Empty Bowls fundraiser, helping make soup bowls and assisting with event preparation. All money raised from this fundraiser was donated to support the shelter. Jared is smart, mature, polite, respectful and focused in his studies. He continues to inspire his peers, teachers and staff at the shelter. Jared is defined by his positive attitude, strong character and engaging personality.
Media inquiries may be directed to:
Alberta Children and Youth Services