2008 Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards
BURLINGTON – The final recipients of the 2008 Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards are a wonderful cross section of individuals who are making a difference to both their hometowns and communities around the globe. They are an inspiring and determined group who not only see a need, but rise to the challenge and contribute their time and energy to making improvements. Their leadership skills are evident.Abbas Homayed, President of the Ontario Community Newspapers Association (OCNA), is extremely pleased to see the strong sense of community instilled in this group of outstanding young people. “To see such commitment and dedication to the people and groups within their cities and towns at such a young age is very impressive,” said Homayed. “We are very proud to be recognizing the achievements of this group of final recipients, as well as all the nominees, in our community newspapers across Ontario.”
The Awards Ceremony will be officiated by Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, at Queen’s Park on March 3, 2009. The final recipients and their immediate families will be invited to this special presentation in Toronto.
The Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards are run through the 322 member newspapers of OCNA with the support of our sponsor TD Canada Trust. Nominations of eligible youth, ages 6 to 17, are received each fall through member community newspapers committed to recognizing outstanding youth who are making a difference in their communities. A panel of volunteer judges must unanimously decide on the final recipients.
This year there were 117 nominees from across Ontario, who are being recognized with certificates of recognition by their local community newspapers.
Below is a synopsis for each finalist. Please note that all recipients are equal and are presented in alphabetical order:
Avinash Balsingh: 12, Scarborough: Touched by how many people are suffering in his city, Avi decided to do something about it. This compassionate youngster started a project termed his Homeless Drive four years ago. Avi had donated more than 100 blankets, 40 comforters, sleeping bags, hats and gloves and over $500 to Street to Homes to help families in need. As he would say, “Even small people can make a difference if they try.”
Eden Beaudin, 9, M’Chigeeng First Nation (Manitoulin Island): Eden’s passion for writing has inspired her to encourage other children to write as well. After writing and self-publishing her first book, she developed and co-ordinated The Pegasus Literary Writing Award. With local school support and ads in the newspaper, Eden raised more than $1,000 on her own. She used that money to host an award ceremony, provide food for those attending, and to give away prizes.
Andrew Cameron, 15, Guelph: Despite a very painful disability that results in multiple joint dislocations each day, Andrew perseveres to be an active and involved teenager. With Internet technology he is able to attend high school from home using a Webcam which has been wholeheartedly accepted by his classmates. He also tutors a boy in math, is on the Guelph Public Library Teen Advisory Board, assists with events at his church, and has hosted a clean-up party at his local park for years.
Sarah Cormier, 17, Collingwood: This capable and confident young lady has proven to be a wonderful role model for young children. Sarah, who is missing part of one leg and some fingers, is a Safety Ambassador for The War Amps and spends a lot of time raising awareness, educating others, public speaking, and counseling young children. She also volunteers to teach snowboarding in a ski program for special needs children. At school, Sarah is active in Student Council, the Parent’s Council, drama and the Dance Committee.
Caroline D’souza, 12, Scarborough: Between homework, Air Cadets, sports, music lessons, writing, and church activities, Caroline still has time to contribute to her community. Since Grade 3 she has been volunteering during recess to help students with special needs. She spends her weekends helping both at her church and local seniors home. Caroline has also sold short stories she had written to raise money for We Care 4 Children, a fund she started to benefit children in India.
Emily Ennett, 17, Stratford: Emily’s strong character and true leadership ability have led her to become involved in countless causes. A food drive that was going to end, an adult community that needed a wheelchair van, a new group forming at school to befriend special needs kids have all benefited from Emily’s drive and commitment. At school Emily introduced a youth philanthropy program in which all grade 10 students will now compete. The winner will donate a $5,000 grant to a local charity. She then got three other schools involved to do the same.
Jeff Howard, 17, Innisfil: Conservation, wildlife and the environment are Jeff’s passion, and have been since he was a youngster. Above and beyond all he has done to educate his peers and community members about local environmental causes, he has recently completed an extensive project to study a local creek. This naturalist is involved in a number of local groups, different animal rescues and school projects, and is always willing to get others involved.
Vivian Leung, 16, Oakville: Vivian cares about others and her compassion has led her to volunteer for a number of organizations at school and within her community. This year alone she has volunteered for the St. John Ambulance, the Rotary Club, the Oakville Youth Advisory Committee and for Big Brothers and Sisters of Halton to name just a few. Vivian has also spent much of her own time coordinating fundraising events to benefit others in need around the world including Pencils for Kids, a campaign to donate school supplies to children in Niger.
Nicholas Maharaj, 13, London: Nicholas has progressed through the Scouting programs where he now provides leadership and guidance to the Beavers, aged 5 to 8. Nicholas is also a passionate participant in Free the Children. His school raised almost $9,000, built a school and from then on Nicholas was hooked. His most recent project has been to found and act as Editor of the first student newspaper. Nicholas works one on one with younger goalies. His natural leadership style and likeable personality, makes it an amazing experience for all the kids he coaches.
Jacob McGavin, 13, Walton: On his 12th birthday, Gavin founded Kids Care, a group of young teens striving to make a difference in poorer areas of the world and improve child education. His group raised a significant amount of money to build a school in Africa and at the local level, the group, under Jacobâ€™s leadership, has collected food for local food banks.
Keerie Peters, 17, Pikangikum: This intelligent, strong willed and tenacious young lady is determined to not only make the most of her life, but to encourage others to do the same. Facing dramatic school drop-out and absenteeism rates, alcoholism, drug abuse and a high rate of suicide in her First Nations Reserve in Northern Ontario, Keerie provides inspiration and leadership to fellow students by encouraging them to attend the religious club and to participate in school activities such as sports and dance as well as fundraisers.
Emily Tieu, 10, Kanata: Four years ago, young Emily learned about a rare, fatal enzyme disease called Sialidosis, which afflicts only one Canadian boy. When she learned the government would not fund research, she decided to sell her old toys in a garage sale to help raise money and earned $91. This determined organizer has been going since then to raise more money each year and garner more support. She has been holding garage sales every year since then, speaking at events, soliciting new volunteers, and has already raised more than $12,000 for Sialidosis research.
2009 Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards
Please come back to the OCNA web site after Sept. 3, 2009 to begin nominations for the 2009 Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards. Nominations will be accepted until November 30, 2009. Help us to recognize our leaders of tomorrow.
Our goal to recognize outstanding young people in communities across Ontario would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. Our gratitude to them all.
TD Community Giving: Making a Difference Together
Children’s health, literacy and education, and the environment are the three primary areas of focus for TD’s community giving. The major flagship programs within these areas are: TD Children’s Hospital Fund, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and the TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, TD Canadian Children’s Book Week, TD Canada Trust Scholarships for Community Leadership, and the TD Summer Reading Club.
In addition, through the support of our customers and employees, TD is involved with a host of national, regional and local programs in support of diversity, arts and culture and other causes. In 2007, TD donated $33million to more than 2,000 charities and not-for-profit organizations across Canada. For more information contact Jennifer Martin, TD Bank Financial Group, 416-308-6473, [email protected]
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For more information, please contact Anne Lannan or Lynn Fenton at the Ontario Community Newspapers Association. (905) 639-8720 ([email protected], [email protected])