Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards
In June, I was invited to attend the 17th annual Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards. Having heard a lot about the event through a friend on the organizing committee, I decided to attend. The awards, sponsored by Youth Ottawa, recognized outstanding leadership amongst youth in Ottawa. Since its inception in 1997, the Spirit Awards have grown considerably, and 2014 saw more applications than any previous year. Initial nominations are made by a community member, and the nominee is asked to compose an answer to a question asked by the award committee. This year, 14 incredibly talented individuals were honoured at the event, which was attended by important community members including Ottawa’s Mayor Jim Watson and Liberal MPP Yasir Naqvi.
The awards were divided into seven categories including Technology and Innovation, Service and Caring, Arts and Culture, Academic Perseverance, Entrepreneurship, Personal Courage, and Take a Stand, which allowed the organization to recognize youth from a variety of different backgrounds. The finalist’s endeavours varied-some were young entrepreneurs, others budding philanthropists, and some had overcome incredible obstacles such as severe illness and depression to reach their goals. From the young girl who raised money to protect polar bear habitats, to the student who had already devoted hundreds of hours to community service projects, the finalists shared similarities in their determination, perseverance, and resourcefulness.
The story I personally connected with was that of Emily Renaud, who started the Dandelion Dance Company, a non-profit that explores social issues through dance. Since I was a dancer, Emily’s efforts are something I can strongly relate to. Altogether, the stories of these finalists inspired a renewed determination to become more involved in my community. Next time I’m feeling dejected or frustrated by my own lack of progress in instilling social change, I will use the stories of these youth as inspiration to keep pushing forward and trying new things.
The Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards are open to youth under 21 from the Ottawa Region. First place in each categories receives a $1000 award, runner up receives $250. For more information, visit www.spiritawards.ca.