Posted May 3, 2013


2013 KYAC youth award winners

KITCHENER – This is National Youth Week, a time to recognize the tremendous benefits young people bring to the community. Last night, the Kitchener Youth Action Council (KYAC) held its annual awards ceremony, celebrating the contributions of young people who participate fully as citizens of our city.

National Youth Week, May 1–7 every year, celebrates youth and their active participation in the community. Whether it is recreation, drama, sport, dance, civic engagement, art, volunteerism or leadership, every day young people are involved in meaningful activities during their discretionary time.

The winners are as follows:

Arts and Culture Award: Emerald Naylor has given a voice to youth in this community through her several articles published by the Waterloo Region Record. She has been on the youth editorial board for the Waterloo Region Record for the past two years and extends the arts through her competitive dancing and her work as the troupe director at Eastwood. She has helped children with arts and crafts and nurtured in them a love of reading.

Service and Caregiving Award: Krenare Recaj truly understands the value of giving to others. At only 17 years of age, she dedicates her life to her family and those with autism. Having witnessed her brother’s struggles on a daily basis, she has spent the past two years volunteering with children with autism.
Entrepreneurship Award: Sajdeep Soomal is the poster child for entrepreneurship. At 19, he created the Synchro Theatre Company in 2011. Sajdeep has taken our local arts and culture scene to the next level by assisting youth performers in our community thrive

Entrepreneurship Award: Brett Crowley has used his business ingenuity along with the visual arts to create a film about social justice and community involvement. The film itself is a documentary about volunteering, through discussions with community members about the significance of youth volunteerism in society and our community specifically.

Environmental Award: Natalie Wennyk is extremely passionate about the world we live in. Through high school, she led EDGE (Environmental Duty to a Greener Earth) and reinstated recycling collection at Bluevale Collegiate. By mentoring students, organizing and supervising Yellow Fish Road, and hosting Earth Day assemblies, she continues to make an impact in our community.

Leadership Award: Jessie Brush continues to be a selfless, inspiring and a passionate leader in our community. With hundreds of hours served with Ray of Hope, a social action team member, and a Kitchener Minor Girls’ Softball Association umpire, Jessie still has time in her day to commit to playing softball, field hockey, volleyball and rugby

Unity in Diversity Award: Sara Abdelrahman is an outstanding student, artist and community member, promoting diversity and unity through her passion and art. This nominee’s captivating and motivational work led to an invitation to speak at city hall on Martin Luther King Day.

Social Action and Justice Award: Hannah Wynen has been a member of the Regional WAYVE (Working Against Youth Violence Everywhere) team for four years, where she has continued to take a positive, proactive and solution-focused approach to social issues such as bullying and mental health awareness. Hannah has bravely shared her personal story for the WAYVE presentation, as well as at many community forums

Sports and Recreation: Juan Paolo Maranan is an incredible athlete, coach and mentor who possess all of the essential qualities associated with a great leader. As an assistant coach for high school volleyball and U14 teams, Juan is a kind teacher who motivates athletes to try new strategies and strengthen their weaknesses.

Personal Triumph: Grace Gany continually maintains a positive attitude, great courage, strength and perseverance, while overcoming obstacles without complaining, and without giving up. She continues to do all of this while putting in large amounts of volunteer hours, studying hard, working part time, and maintaining excellent grades. She is the epitome of personal triumph.

Intergenerational Award: Christin Tabije embodies all of the characteristics of a dedicated volunteer. She doesn't just volunteer, but in fact, makes it her mission to develop relationships in the community. Christin has volunteered more than 300 hours in one year at the Winston Park Nursing Home, not to fulfill her required high school hours but for the sole purpose of helping others.

Community Contribution Award: Donna Voll is active as a sergeant in the Ayr air cadets represented her high school at the Waterloo Region District School Board’s youth equity leadership camp and this past year attended the Ontario Secondary School leadership convention in Niagara Falls. Donna recently returned home from Santiago, Chile, where she did community work for 10 days.

Youth Ally: Edwin William Daniel Laryea is the founder and trainer of the African Canadian Youth Leadership group, an academic counsellor for African youth. In his work, Edwin planned and facilitated three leadership workshops for newcomer youth in conjunction with Dr. Glover, director of University of Waterloo Healthy Communities network and is constantly motivating, encouraging and positive toward ethnic and immigrant youth development.

Group Award: InREACH Youth Group Jade, James, Jordan, Sagal, Ansu, Felix and Josh have volunteered their time, energy and creative talents to create a dynamic multimedia presentation that incorporated video, music, art and spoken word to convey their powerful message and insights. With their inREACH: A Youth Perspective community presentation, they are spreading the word to other members of their community in an effort to raise awareness and promote community youth engagement.

KYAC is a group of volunteers between the ages of 14 and 24 who work with the City of Kitchener to act as a voice for Kitchener youth and raise awareness of issues that affect youth. KYAC members work to ensure that Kitchener is a fun, safe place for youth to live.

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