Cam Henderson

Oak Bay teens lauded as leaders

Honour gives meaning to work

The stars of tomorrow, can also be the stars of today.

Ten Oak Bay students will receive Young Exceptional Stars (YES) awards at a banquet honouring some of the best and brightest grade 6 to 10 students making a difference in the community.

“It’s important to recognize youth and be inclusive and make sure that they feel that they are contributing, are respected and are worthwhile,” said Oak Bay coun. Michelle Kirby. “When we do that, we engage youth. … And we ensure they stay engaged and remain active, contributing citizens.”

Students are nominated based on volunteerism, exceptional academics, athletics and ability to overcome obstacles and will be rewarded for their efforts at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre, tonight.

“This event is one of the best times I’ve had as a councillor. Sitting there listening to the nomination speeches and seeing the reaction of the families and how proud those kids are,” Kirby continued. “Some of the kids have come back and done the keynote speech and shared how much the award meant and how it encouraged them to keep volunteering and contributing to the community. There is nothing more inspiring than hearing that. You want to make sure you keep it going.”

One of this year’s recipients is Cam Henderson, who first discovered the YES awards when his older sister Adriaenne won three years ago. The 14-year-old is proud to join his sister as a recipient.

“I was thinking whoa, I am getting something that my big sister got. I thought that was pretty cool,” Henderson said. “I never really thought about it as something I would be trying to get. I think it’s really cool now that I got it.”

A basketball, rugby, soccer, volleyball player and cross-country runner, Henderson captains two of his sports teams and carries an A average at Lansdowne middle school.

Nominated for the award by a teacher the Grade 8 student said it serves as a starting point, not the end game, and drives him to work even harder and do more every day.

“I like really working hard and impressing my teachers. I think it’s motivation to work harder (on) bigger things to work toward,” he said. “I think it will push me, to push myself more in athletics and in school knowing that I can achieve something like that.”

His sister, who serves as the keynote speaker at the banquet this year said she isn’t surprised Cam won and believes the YES awards can be a great motivator for youth as they make their way into the final years of high school.

“He’s a team player, being rewarded for that will really encourage him. I think it’s a very positive thing,” she said. “This is selective to younger people during a time when you are judged for taking a stand and being outside the norm. Spotlighting them in the community is huge for confidence and carries on through school and university.”

The event, sponsored by local businesses and the Kiwanis Club among others, is paid for and supported by leaders and members of the community who recognize the importance of youth involvement in the community. Something Kirby is proud of and said inspires the youth even more.

“Leaders in the community that come and recognize youth gives it more meaning, it is special,” she said. “When kids do get some recognition for their contributions it inspires. … Everyone at that ceremony leaves inspired and wanting to do their own contributions.”

The banquet kicks off at 7 p.m. at Oak Bay Recreation Centre tonight (May 7). Tickets are $20.

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