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Youth volunteers are vital to our community

Ponoka is very lucky to have so many volunteers in our community. Each day volunteers of all ages help to make our community a better place to live in by unselfishly giving of their selves.

Ponoka is very lucky to have so many volunteers in our community. Each day volunteers of all ages help to make our community a better place to live in by unselfishly giving of their selves.

Sometimes volunteers don’t want to be recognized but it’s important to thank volunteers for what they give our community especially the youth of our community.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 12th annual Leaders of Tomorrow awards, which ‘recognizes youth volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to their community through volunteerism and/or leadership.’

Deadline for nominations is March 28 and nomination criteria includes: a student between kindergarten and Grade 12, someone who volunteers through youth groups, schools and various organizations, a student who gives of their time outside of an organized group or someone who is a positive role model to fellow students and friends.

“It promotes positive leadership and service. Volunteering is a big thing. There are so many volunteers in town but if they start young they will continue to volunteer in the future,” said St. Augustine teacher Sylvia Brendel one of the representatives on the Leaders of Tomorrow Board. “We just want to recognize the potential that our youth have.”

She is very happy that for the first time in the awards history there is a representative from every school on the board. The board includes Lynn Gray from the Centennial Centre, Brendel from St.A’s, Jody Carothers from Ponoka Composite High School, Janice Mackie from the Centennials Centre, Judy Yaro from Diamond Willow Middle School, Heather Blackmore from Ponoka Elementary School, Don Letwinetz from EnCana, Gord Hickey and Shelagh Hagemann from Ponoka Outreach and Margaret Sharp from the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre. .

“It is vital for youth to be recognized for the positive activities that they do. It’s to encourage them to continue to develop their leadership skills,” said Brendel.

Each year the Leaders of Tomorrow are recognized at a celebration event, this year it will be held on April 27 at the Kinsmen Community Centre from 1 to 3 p.m. Nominees will also head to a 4-H leadership workshop May 9 and 10.

This year Christine Nordhagen will speak to the Leaders of Tomorrow. She is a Canadian wrestler and a six-time world champion. She is a graduate of the University of Alberta and hails from Grand Prairie.

She competed in the 2004 summer Olympics in Athens and placed fifth in the 72-kilogram women’s freestyle event. Past speakers have included Dr. Clayton West a veterinary from Ponoka and in 2006 Melissa Hollengsworth-Richards from Eckville, who won a bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics in Torino.

Jenna Brake was one of the of 2007 junior winners from St. A’s, she is one of the alter servers at her church, she helps after school and shovels sidewalks for elderly neighbours on her street. She thinks the awards are a vital part of the community and encourages people to nominate youth in the community.

“When I won the award it made me feel very proud because it’s a great award and I got recognized for a lot of things that I do in the community,” said Brake. “ It gives youth the opportunity to feel good about themselves.”

It is often said that the youth are the future of tomorrow and it is true, they are our Leaders of Tomorrow. Nomination packages are available at all local schools, the Town of Ponoka office, the Centennial Centre Resource Centre, Bruce’s True Value and Ponoka Jubilee Library. If you have any other questions you can contact Carothers at 403-783-4411 or Sharp at 403-704-8801, both are members of Ponoka Volunteer Week Society.