Sisters reflect on youth award success

Young Exceptional Star Awards will celebrate eight years by handing out 15 awards on May 13

Sisters Patricia

Sisters Patricia

Oak Bay sisters Nicola and Patricia Horwood attribute some of their successes in leadership to the inspiration and acknowledgement of their good work as youngsters.

Nicola, now 17, won a Young Exceptional Star award from the district of Oak Bay when she was in Grade 8 at Lansdowne Middle School.

Now in Grade 12 at Oak Bay High, an injury pulled her from competitive gymnastics that were part of the reason for her nomination for that award. It left a space in her life to fill with a plethora of other sports. Some activities, which haven’t really changed, only advanced, since her win as a youngster, include her favourites: music, choir band and leadership in both the school and the community.

“It encouraged me to keep at what I’m doing; be a well-rounded person,” Nicola said. “Through my skills, I’m able to make a difference in other people’s lives, teaching music and coaching sports.”

Patricia, now 15, earned her YES award the following year, when she was in Grade 7 at Lansdowne. In a similar path featuring a heavy musical influence, she was recognized for her volunteer work, academic achievement, sports and music and simply “being involved” in the community.

“[The YES Award] made me feel good about what I was doing, that I was making a difference, and it encourages you to keep making a difference,” Patricia said.

“It also holds you accountable,” Nicola added.

Oak Bay’s YES Awards are designed to recognize youth, bring in local business to help with that recognition, and invite seniors’ leadership to the gala in hopes of reinforcing the good works by youth in the community.

Nicola says that early inspiration provided a confidence, helping her continue to “step up and lead” – for example, co-captaining the senior girls rugby team at Oak Bay High this year.

She encourages youth to “use what they excel at. Take their abilities and share with each other.”

Students from grades 6 though 10 who live or attend school in the community are nominated based on volunteerism, exceptional academics, athletics and ability to overcome obstacles and be rewarded for their efforts.

A total of 15 youth will be recognized during the eighth annual YES Awards ceremony May 13 at Oak Bay Recreation Centre.

“We elected to expand the number of awards given this year,” said Coun. Hazel Braithwaite, one of the organizers of the event.

“Even the awards ceremony is really special,” Nicola said. “You get to see other people being recognized for different things.”

Look for our upcoming special section highlighting this year’s YES Award winners in the Oak Bay News.