Tomorrow’s leaders are leaving their marks on us today. Across Ontario youth are dedicating their time and energy to making a difference in their communities and around the world. The 12 final recipients of the 2010 Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards are truly a remarkable group of individuals whose stories illustrate the passion, initiative, creativity and leadership evident in the youth today that will no doubt have a lasting impact on their communities in the future.
“Franklin Roosevelt once said, ‘We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future’ and this program proudly showcases our youth who are doing just that in communities across this province,” said Anne Lannan, OCNA Executive Director.
The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario was present to hand out awards to recipients during the a special presentation in Niagara Falls on May 14, 2011.
The Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards are run through the 315 member newspapers of OCNA with the support of our corporate sponsors TD Bank Group and Direct Energy. Nominations of eligible youth, aged 6 to 17, are received each fall through member community newspapers committed to recognizing the outstanding young leaders who are making a difference in their communities. Nominees may be involved in worthwhile community service; special young people who are contributing while living with a physical or psychological limitation; or individuals who have performed acts of heroism or bravery. Award recipients may also be ‘good kids’ who show a commitment to making life better for others and do more than is normally expected of someone their age. A panel of judges must unanimously agree on the final award recipients.
This year all 107 worthy nominees from across Ontario are being acknowledged with Certificates of Recognition by their local community newspapers.
Below is a synopsis for each of the 12 final recipients listed in alphabetical order.
Zac Andrus, 16, Port Hope: Zac has cerebral palsy but has never let it stop him from making a difference and motivating others to do the same. Noticing that the community of Port Hope was in need of an accessible playground, Zac set out to raise enough money to install an accessible swing in a downtown park. After years of advocating and fundraising in his community, Zac’s dream grew from installing a single swing to the construction of an entire playground accessible to all children.
Maya Burhanpurkar, 11, Shanty Bay: Maya is only 12 years old, but has already achieved remarkable accomplishments. She is an ‘A’ student who has conducted her own research on plant-based antibiotics, has donated her hair to be used to make wigs for children with cancer, and spent a summer volunteering at a rural hospital in India. Maya also recently spearheaded a fundraising drive for Haiti earthquake relief in which she raised over $2,000.
Anisha Dhalla, 16, Nepean: Contrary to her small stature, Anisha is viewed as a big leader and role model in her community. She has demonstrated to children and adults alike the value and importance of giving back through various fundraising efforts and volunteering for causes such as Amnesty International, Me to We Day and Free the Children, for which she has traveled to Kenya and India to help build schools and now runs a club at her school advocating for the awareness of child poverty in other countries.
Joshua Edwards, 17, Kingston: Joshua is a confident go-getter with a place in his heart for young children. As a dedicated member of the Salvation Army Community Church, Joshua teaches Sunday school lessons, runs a weekly youth group and volunteers at day camps. Joshua has also organized a Halloween party for underprivileged children in which they were led through activities and given treat bags while participating adults were invited to donate food for the local food bank.
Simon Harmgardt, 17, Oakville: Simon is involved in a multitude of local volunteer organizations including a number of initiatives he started on his own. One of Simon’s biggest accomplishments is his Life Cycle initiative, in which he refurbishes used bikes to donate to families in need in the Oakville community and underprivileged children in the Dominican Republic.
Hannah Hempinstall, 12, Richmond: Hannah is a bright young girl who devotes her time to giving back to others. She founded the Dance for Diabetes fundraiser at her school and has been running it every year since her best friend was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in 2008. She has raised over $6,000 to donate to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation since then and has pledged to continue organizing dances until a cure is found.
Morgan Moore, 10, Barrie: Whether it is by giving away her own lunches, mittens and boots to children who need them at her school, spending hours baking treats to raise money for the Terry Fox Foundation, or making Mother’s Day baskets to donate to local shelters, Morgan’s sense of initiative and desire to help make the world a better place for everyone is clear. At such a young age she inspires all who meet her.
Nat Moraal, 15, Madoc: Rather than spend his summer vacation playing by the pool like your average 15 year-old, Nat set a goal of raising $2,500 for the local food bank. Nat used his abundant energy and enthusiasm to organize events, motivate other volunteers and to take on different summer jobs so he could buy more food to fill the food bank’s shelves. Nat met his goal and more. By the end of the summer he had raised $10,000.
Steven Muysson, 16, Grimsby: Officially diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at age seven, Steven overcomes daily challenges while contributing to his school, church and his community in numerous ways. Steven was involved in a youth mission project over the summer where he and a group traveled to Michigan to work on a housing project there. Many local organizations have also been the recipients of his dedication and hard work, but his quiet determination and cheerfulness are what truly inspires others.
Natasha Rae, 17, St. Marys: Upon learning that a young girl she’d never met in her St. Marys community was diagnosed with cancer, Natasha suggested she be given a bracelet-making kit to use while in the hospital as a fun activity to pass the time. This idea soon evolved and Natasha began making bracelets to raise money for the girl. To date, Natasha has raised over $7,000 for Zoe and her family.
Zane Schwartz, 17, Toronto: Zane is the co-founder of the Run for Rocky Campaign, a 5km race to raise money and awareness for pancreatic cancer research, in memory of his teacher Mr. Rocky Yeung, who died of the illness in 2008. During the months leading up to the race, he coordinated volunteers, secured donations from local businesses, and organized over 400 people on the day of the event. Zane raised over $15,000 for the campaign and has chosen to use a portion of the funds to create a student scholarship in Yeung’s name.
Tyson Sherrer, 12, Winchester: Tyson was born with congenital melanocytic naevi syndrome and has endured multiple surgeries and other procedures since then. For the past two years, he has organized a ball hockey tournament to raise money for the local children’s hospital that he says “has already done so much for me”. To date, Tyson has raised over $16,000 for his cause.
Our goal to recognize outstanding young people in communities acrossOntario would not be possible without the generous support of oursponsors. Our gratitude to them all.
TD Community Giving
TD invests in communities to make a positive impact where it does business and where our customers, clients and employees live and work. In 2010, TD donated over $50 million to support community organizations in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. In Canada, we focus on Education and Financial Literacy, Creating Opportunities for Young People, and the Environment. For more information, visit www.td.com/corporateresponsibility.
Direct Energy: Helping Communities Help Each Other
In 2009, Direct Energy committed over $1.8 million in cash, product and service donations to charitable organizations
across North America while raising an additional $325,000 for charitable causes through employee-led fundraisers. Our employees found new ways to partner with the non-profit sector to share skills and ideas and strive to make a difference by volunteering over 6,200 hours to initiatives in their local communities.
Direct Energy believes we have a responsibility to support the communities in which we live and work. By investing our resources, sharing our skills, knowledge and volunteering our time, we believe we can create valuable inter-connections and develop lasting corporate-community partnerships.
Direct Energy is a member of Volunteer Canada’s Corporate Council and supports our employees through a robust array of charitable programs such as Dollars for Doers, Matching Grants and our own Direct Energy Citizen of the Year Award.
For more information, please contact Emily Richardson, Direct Energy, 416-758-8979, Emily.Richardson@directenergy.com or visit www.directenergy.com.
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For more information on the Junior Citizens Awards, please contact Carla Alexander (905) 639-8720 ext. 239.