The Wetaskiwin Leaders of Tomorrow at its 20th annual Awards Night recognized the exceptional quality of caring, helping, and leading practised by 32 young nominees. Each of these nominees joined representatives of the Major Sponsors on stage during the reading of their biography of the volunteer activities for which they were nominated, and were presented with a certificate, a copy of their biography, a Leaders of Tomorrow T-shirt and an 8GB USB drive preloaded with a leadership toolkit. They are all also invited to attend an overnight leadership camp at the Alberta 4-H Centre at Battle Lake, compliments of 4-H Alberta. From each of the four age categories of nominees, one is chosen as representative of their age group, and receives a plaque and a cheque for $100 to present to the charity of their choice. When the ceremony is over, they also search the decorative shiny gold star balloons for the one with their name to take home.
The evening is well organized, and planned to make every one of the nominees feel appreciated and special. After the official photo is taken of the nominees and Major Sponsors, the nominees are led in by bagpipes and RCMP in red serge. After the ceremony, there is ice cream with a wide choice of toppings for all.
All of the nominees exhibit an outstanding desire to do everything possible to make their corner of the world a better place for everyone around them. When helping with events, they simply pitch in, doing whatever they can, including set-up and clean-up. They recognize needs, and take the initiative to make sure the needs are met, whether by themselves or by organizing others to help with them. Among them are many of the students who have sought to learn and practice conflict resolution skills. One and all, they are helpers in school, in clubs and organizations, at church, at home, and in their communities, and they give their help with a smile and a great attitude. The list of their activities is long, both collectively and individually. Activities engaged in by one or more of the nominees include: supervising younger classes’ lunch rooms including helping open containers and helping put on outdoor clothing and boots, using conflict resolution skills on the playground, helping with carrying groceries and set-up and clean-up for breakfast or lunch programs, explaining math. and other tutoring, helping with collecting and sorting for recycling, organizing Kindergarten games, helping in a grandparents’ store, initiating and setting up suggestion boxes, assisting with rink maintenance, tying skates, safety patrols, fund raising, student councils, singing at school and church and seniors’ residences, shovelling seniors’ walks, all aspects of theatre activity including backstage and acting, anti-bullying awareness, collecting things such as jeans or shoes to match needs, instructing younger people in areas of skill such as dance or art or sports or skating, assisting at summer camps, helping at home with everything from farm activities to foster children—the list goes on and on. These young volunteers are described as being compassionate, kind, positive, empathetic, selfless, committed, honest, dependable, respectful, encouraging, friendly, resourceful, polite, fair, intuitive, courteous, and inspirational. They are good role models who have a solid work ethic and great initiative. They are prime examples of the many, many really good kids in our homes and schools today.
At this 20th Awards Night, the guest speaker was June Boyda, a Leaders of Tomorrow nominee at the 1st Awards Night in 1996, and now a member of the City of Wetaskiwin Council. She briefly shared from her own journey and encouraged volunteering, emphasizing that it can be done in many ways and areas of life, can begin in a small way, and involves sharing one’s own ideas and skills and abilities. It was also noted that the trustee representing the WRPS Board, Robbyn Erickson, had also been a Leaders of Tomorrow nominee. Past, present and future nominees and those they influence will continue to live with the understanding that volunteers make their community and their world a better place as they share their strengths and abilities to make others happy and meet others’ needs.
An interesting part of the program was a brief history of Leaders of Tomorrow in Wetaskiwin. It began in 1996 and was based on a Calgary program. Two of the original board members are still on the board, Dale Quinn and Charleen Schnick. Their commitment to the program is greatly appreciated. The recognition the program provides is an important aspect of building community.