Leaders of Tomorrow honoured at ceremony

The youth of today have been publicly recognized as our leaders of tomorrow. The Leaders of Tomorrow Awards acknowledge the young people in the community who have selflessly given of themselves for the betterment of Ponoka.

On April 19, 33 youth from Ponoka took to the stage at the Kinsmen Auditorium to be commended for their positive contributions.

Of those 33 youth, there were nine of those who received an award. It was repeated that the anonymous judges, who were from out of town and unfamiliar with the youth, had an exhausting and difficult time choosing the winners.

The results of their judging awarded these nine young people with a plaque. The results are as follows:

Primary Category

Madison Fleck

Jaymee Klinger

Noah Hackett

Elementary Category

Michael Schmidt

Mickaela Ackermann

Junior Category

Savannah Slater

Tom Halse

Senior Category

Jaylene Fenske

Kyle Morrow

For the celebration of these youth a special performance by the St. Augustine School choir entertained all who came and sang ‘Samson’, ‘One World’ and ‘Music is Magic’.

Guest speakers Vern Soch, superintendent of EnCana, said a few words, as well as Bruce Banks, executive director of Alberta 4-H.

Ponoka mayor, Larry Henkelman, congratulated and encouraged the youth on behalf of the Town of Ponoka and was pleased with all those who were nominated.

“It is a wonderful sight to see a group of young people who contribute so positively to our community,” said Henkelman. “These qualities are valued and we wish you much success as you continue down the positive path you have chosen. We look forward to hearing of your future successes and contributions for all the years to come.”

Reeve of Ponoka County, Gordon Svenningsen gave his best wishes on behalf of Ponoka County and commended the youth on all they have accomplished.

“You are all winners,” said Svenningsen. “We wish you best of luck in your future.”

The youth and their families and guests had the privilege of listening to guest speaker Lori Radke.

Radke, a two time paralympic gold medalist for wheelchair basketball Canadian women’s team was the much anticipated speaker for the event. Radke grew up in Ponoka and received two gold medals at the Atlanta Games of 1996 and the Sydney, Australia Games in 2000, respectively, and a bronze medal at the Athens, Greece Games of 2004, Radke also received four consecutive gold medals at the World Championships and spent 15 years on the National Team. She currently lives in Calgary where she keeps busy by playing basketball for the Rocky Mountain Rollers, working as a physical therapist and raising seven-year-old son, Connor.

Radke took time to explain how she became interested in playing the sport and how injuries to both her knees prohibited her from playing stand up sports.

She expressed her enthusiasm as the guest speaker and emphasized the value of growing up in Ponoka.

“This ceremony and awards process is very indicative to what Ponoka is about,” said Radke. “I love coming back to Ponoka and really honoured to be a part of this ceremony.”

Radke congratulated the youth and encouraged them in their future choices, indicating also that sometimes goals can change.

“I’m in awe of all the award nominees, and all the things that these young people are doing,” she said. “It’s exciting to see so many young people in the community who are working for the community.”

Radke showed a video on Canada’s wheelchair basketball teams as well as their successes in the games. She emphasized that Canada is one of the top teams in the world in this sport.

She also demonstrated some moves and with the extra wheelchairs she brought, gave the youth the opportunity to play a game of basketball while in the wheelchairs. This, of course, resulted in awkward moves and little ball control, but was entertaining and fun for all.

Radke ended on a valuable note, playing and reading ‘My Wish’ by Rascall Flatts and sending the youth out with an understanding for tomorrow.