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    Categories: Volunteers & Charity

The new Leaders of Tomorrow … today

You are never too young to start. St. Albert is full of volunteers and a lot of them are kids.

Every year the Community Information & Volunteer Centre (CIVC) hands out its Leaders of Tomorrow awards to youth who demonstrate charity, altruism and straight up selflessness. To top it off, they do it all in the face of rigorous academic schedules and extracurricular activities. We could all learn a lot about time management and non-stop achieving from this year’s winners.

“It solidifies our future when we have this kind of young person … committed to a better community,” stated Pat Phelan, volunteer services co-ordinator with the agency.

“It just amazes me what they do at such a young age … and how diverse their volunteer involvement is. We’re very fortunate in this community to have the committed young people that we have.”

The CIVC Leaders of Tomorrow Awards have four age categories plus a group category. This year, picking one winner for the 16- to 18-year age category was so challenging, the committee chose two.

Two years ago, young Jaden Babiuk decided to do something about cancer. With passion and enthusiasm, he decided bowling would rally the masses, so he created Strikes for Cancer, a fundraiser rolling into its third frame next month. Babiuk, now eight years old, is still out there getting his schoolmates from Ă©cole Marie Poburan, friends, neighbours, family members and anyone he can find to sign up. His goal is to raise $15,000 for the Cross Cancer Institute. Not convinced? Give him a chance and he’ll bowl you over.

Judging from her extensive rĂ©sumĂ©, Naatiya Prakash must be older than we are led to believe. The student at Bellerose simply doesn’t stop volunteering. When she was a student at Elmer S. Gish, she helped with charity recycling efforts, school fundraisers, open houses and even did backdrops for drama productions while helping design the yearbook. Big Brothers, the seniors’ club, the children’s festival, charity walks, Arts and Heritage St. Albert … it might be easier to list the community activities that she hasn’t been involved with. On top of all that, she maintains excellent grades.

The 150th anniversary celebrations wouldn’t be the same without the dedication of this first year University of Alberta student. She was an enthusiastic organizer during the Family Day festivities and is still busy getting the soapbox derby and Battle of the Bands ready. She has helped numerous school activities and community efforts over the years, including Change for Africa at Paul Kane, the winner of last year’s youth group award. She has also been helping out an Edmonton inner city shelter.

Caitlin LaRose is one of Bellerose’s most active volunteers and leaders. She has been an executive member of the leadership council for the last two years. Her name often comes up for planning school activities, fundraisers and outreach projects. While maintaining an honours average, she participates in the community as well, with such worthwhile projects as Ballerina Dreams, Meals on Wheels, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

You could say that Keegan Farrell is very ‘active’ within his community but you’d have to say it twice. He not only stays busy in sports but also keeps those sports going by volunteering with different organizations, teams and facilities, often on the sidelines. The St. Albert Soccer Association and Dynamyx Gymnastics credit him as being a driving force. No job is too small for this young man, whether it’s office work, fundraising, handing out food during events or transporting materials and supplies

There are 19 members of this committee, all dedicated to promoting the 40 Developmental Assets described as “positive experiences and personal qualities that young people need to grow up healthy, caring and responsible.”

The proof is in the pudding. The committee members organize and supervise all manner of activities, act as spokespeople, educate, mentor, coach, collect, serve and generally do anything and everything to help the rest of this city’s youth not just grow up right, but mature as well.

Scott Hayes: Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.