The Celebration of Youth Awards is the YMCA’s way of recognizing outstanding members of the next generation.
Winners, who earn a cash prize, are selected for their commitment to community, being good role models for and excelling at what they do.
Over the summer The Journal is featuring the 15 Sarnia-area winners, each of whom exhibits the values of caring, honesty and responsibility.
Emma McCann – Philanthropy Award
Emma McCann, a Grade 12 student at St. Patrick’s High School, is an outstanding young woman who pushes the limits and accomplishes the seemingly impossible. She not only recognizes where there is a shortfall of support in our community, but she selflessly shares her talents to successfully address it.
Emma’s strong commitment to community is exemplified in the organizations with which she has worked. She is an unyielding mental health advocate, and an intuitive young woman who quickly recognized a lack of resources for young people suffering with mental health issues.
As part of her school’s Kingdom Assignment, Emma used her artistic talents to sell a print entitled ‘The Ties That Bind’ for the Suicide Prevention Committee, and to date has raised more than $8,000 for this important cause.
In 2012, she was selected as a member for the Ontario Youth Action Committee on Children’s Mental Health. She has presented policy papers at Queen’s Park and spoken eloquently in front of large school-aged audiences about mental wellness.
Emma has logged over 600 hours volunteering for organizations such as Pathways, Kids Help Phone, Habitat for Humanity, Rebound, as well as for programs in her high school (Muskoka Woods Leader, Link Crew Leader and peer tutor).
Molly McKinlay – Personal Achievement Award
Molly McKinlay is a graduating SCITS student.
One teacher describers as a top student whose “success at school is due to her strength of character and her discipline.”
Her talents as athlete, actor and writer played an important role in her many extra-curricular activities, including her participation in track & field, tennis, hockey, badminton and school drama club productions.
Molly’s ability to overcome personal challenges has made her more determined than ever. Her battle with depression and anxiety was a lengthy challenge, forcing her to seek private counselling and group therapy. Family financial struggles and her father’s health challenges added to her stress, sending her to a point of giving up.
Molly’s inner strength began to take over, getting her on the path to wellness, leaving her with a desire to help those with mental health issues. She became involved in Shine the Light, a campaign to raise awareness of teen suicide and
She was almost recovered when personal tragedy struck – her grandfather committed suicide As Molly says, “The important thing was to not let the bad days bring me down…keep my head up and strive to be the best I can be.”
Now fully recovered, Molly’s involvement in her community is one her most endearing qualities. She is very supportive of people in need, without requiring the acknowledgment of others. She is quick to support, to empower, and to listen.
Molly will be attending Guelph University to study Adult Development and plans to become a family therapist.
REBEKAH PEDE – Volunteerism and Community Service Award
One reference said Rebekah “embodies everything that is good about a volunteer: a willingness to set yourself aside to help others, commitment to the task at hand, an ability to balance multiple commitments, and an attitude of strength, reliability, and warmth.”
While continuously achieving academic excellence, she has gained the Youth Optimist Award, been a nominee for the Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year award, received numerous Harmony for Youth awards, and been a winner of the Legion’s Poetry Contest.
In elementary school, Rebekah initiated Candy Cane for a Cause in support of the Pathways Centre. She has been a supervisor and assistant in nursery and Sunday School settings, a church youth group leader and program organizer, and a continuous supporter of families in need.
She has provided child care and tutoring to children of low-income families, and extended her co-op hours beyond the course requirements to assist others in need. In fact, Rebekah, through a diverse range of activities, has logged over 800 hours of volunteer time for the sake of others.
While providing so much support, she has used her time management skills and energy to participate in soccer and rugby, choir work, musicals, and care within her own family for a brother who faced near-death conditions several times due to multiple disabilities and health issues.
Rebekah has critical thinking skills and an impressive creative flair. “She is simply outstanding” according to another references.
She plans to become a Nurse Practitioner.