Youth Appreciation 2022

Since 1957, Optimist Clubs have recognized youth for their talents in the arts, athletics, academics, and contributions to the community. These extraordinary individuals demonstrate qualities such as exceptional leadership, selflessness, courage and sincere devotion to the welfare of others.

The Optimist Club of Waterloo North has had the pleasure of hosting Youth Appreciation events for over 25 years. Well over 250 youth have received recognition from our club for their personal and/or community achievements.

Join us in congratulating the recipients on their 2022 Youth Appreciation Awards. We also thank each of the community organizations who nominated a young person. Please read their stories below:


Caring Neighbour
Sam

Nevena Vlacic pictured with Sam, her nominee for a Youth Appreciation Award. Nevena shared:

“As soon as I saw the post for youth appreciation nomination I thought of Sam. I typically see Sam on the way to school to drop off my kids or when I’m coming back. Whenever I do pass him he will acknowledge you by greeting you, and will continue on with a small talk like : ‘How are you today? How is your day? Have a good day today.’ His presence and interaction sends out a positive vibe that always leaves me smiling and thinking ‘wow what a great kid and how amazing it is that he will make small talk with an adult neighbour who he mostly sees just in passing’. I see and know many other kids in the neighborhood but no one gives out the presence of care, respect and friendliness like Sam does. I strongly believe he deserves this nomination.”


Food4Kids Waterloo Region
Callie

Kim Mervyn nominated Callie for her work with Food4Kids Waterloo Region, saying…

Callie is a caring and thoughtful volunteer who has a heart for social justice in our community. She has been a volunteer for a few years, helping assemble food bags for children who live with chronic hunger from food insecure homes. Highly motivated to help those in need, including many children her own age, she took the initiative and was the driving force behind a food drive. Using leadership and organizational skills, she reached out to many contacts and collected 560 items, one of the biggest food drives this year. It is a great honour to work alongside someone who has such empathy and awareness at a young age.”


The Ripple Effect Education
Caitlin

Katie Gingerich from The Ripple Effect Education nominated Caitlin with the following comments:

“It is my honour to nominate Caitlin for the Optimist Club of Waterloo North’s Youth Appreciation Award. I first met Caitlin in June 2021 when she became a participant in the Peace Innovators Scholarship and Mentoring Program at the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement in Waterloo, Ontario. I have known her to be an engaged and creative innovator who seeks to solve problems with critical thought.

As a current participant in the Peace Innovators program, Caitlin has taken initiative to research the impact of mental health stigma in her high school community and has launched The Bucket List Project to bring attention to mental health resources available to youth and to initiate positive conversations about mental health. She has taken great initiative and has engaged in equity-centered community design to explore the root causes of mental health stigma and design a solution in response.

Caitlin is an exceptional young person who I wholeheartedly recommend for this award. In addition to being a creative innovator, she is a strong communicator who advocates for the people and causes she believes in. Knowing her tenacity and vision, investing in Caitlin means making a difference in her community for years to come.”


The Ripple Effect Education
Mackenzie

Katie Gingerich from The Ripple Effect Education nominated Mackenzie with the following comments:

“It is my honour to nominate Mackenzie for the Optimist Club of Waterloo North’s Youth Appreciation Award. I first met Mackenzie in June 2021 when she became a participant in the Peace Innovators Scholarship and Mentoring Program at the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement in Waterloo, Ontario. I have known her to be a thoughtful and hardworking leader who strives to create positive change in her community.

As a current participant in the Peace Innovators program, Mackenzie has taken initiative to research the impact of mental health stigma in her high school community and has launched The Bucket List Project to bring attention to mental health resources available to youth and to initiate positive conversations about mental health. She has taken great initiative and has engaged in equity-centered community design to explore the root causes of mental health stigma and design a solution in response.

Mackenzie is an exceptional young person who I wholeheartedly recommend for this award. In addition to being an effective leader, she is a strong community builder, who excels at bringing people together and creating inclusive spaces for youth to gather and thrive. Knowing her tenacity and vision, investing in Mackenzie means making a difference in her community for years to come.”


Congratulations again to these deserving young leaders!

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