New awards program looking for youth leaders in the Cowichan Valley

Nominate a youth volunteer for the Leaders of Tomorrow Awards now. The deadline is March 15, and awards will be presented in April.

Leadership Vancouver Island and Volunteer Cowichan are on a mission to acknowledge and encourage youth volunteers in our area.

The Acknowledging Leaders of Tomorrow (Team ALOT) Leadership Vancouver Island team — which includes Ladysmith residents Lisa Brinkman and Byron Neubauer — has teamed up with Volunteer Cowichan to create the Leaders of Tomorrow Awards to recognize and reward student volunteers.

The Leaders of Tomorrow Awards program is a youth volunteer recognition program in which an event is held to honour the youth volunteer leaders in our community. The intent is to publicly recognize youth aged six to 21 who demonstrate outstanding leadership through volunteer efforts in the Cowichan Valley, to affirm the value of their actions to the community and to create role models for other youth.

The purpose of the Leaders of Tomorrow Awards program is to encourage the nominees to continue their involvement in volunteerism and leadership activities and to acknowledge that all voluntary contributions are valuable to the community.

Leaders of Tomorrow recognizes young people who have made outstanding contributions to the community through voluntary action in four age categories — six to 11 years of age, 12 to 14 years of age, 15 to 17 years of age, and 18 to 21 years of age.

All nominees and representatives will be invited to a public awards ceremony, held during Volunteer Week in April.

The Acknowledging Leaders of Tomorrow (Team ALOT) consists of Neubauer, Brinkman, Anne-Marie Koeppen, Charlie Clappis, Julia Ellison and coach Sheila Walmsley. As part of the Leadership Vancouver Island program, the team is partnering with Leadership Vancouver Island and Volunteer Cowichan to create this new awards program in the Cowichan Valley.

Brinkman says youth volunteer awards have been done in Alberta, but as far as her team knows, they don’t think they’ve been done in B.C.

“We observed that in the newspaper, there’s always sections about youth athletes who excel and musicians who excel, but very rarely are those who choose to volunteer their time recognized,” she said. “We wanted to bring them to the fore and acknowledge them and thank them and encourage them to cary on because we see them as leaders of tomorrow.”

Brinkman says they hope their Leaders of Tomorrow Awards program is similar to Craig and Marc Kielburger’s Free the Children model of encouraging youth to be agents of change.

“That for me was an inspiration, the Me to We campaign,” she said. “Volunteer Cowichan has had this on their books for a while, and we wanted to help them.”

Brinkman says Team ALOT has received a lot of support from the community.

“Byron has put together a fantastic website — he’s never done that before, and he’s done a fantastic job,” she said, noting Neubauer had help from David Kuhn from IIE Solutions.

49th Parallel donated money so the team could print brochures and nomination forms.

Brinkman has enjoyed being part of Leadership Vancouver Island.

“We all feel quite strongly about this topic and this project, and it’s very positive and encouraging,” she said. “We look forward to the nominations. I really look forward to seeing who comes out of the woodwork. The age range is so broad too; I think it will bring diversity to it.”

Award recipients will be honoured at an event this April as part of National Volunteer Week activities.

The deadline for nominating youth for the Leaders of Tomorrow Awards is Friday, March 15. For nomination forms and more information, click here, call 250-748-2133 or e-mail vcvolunteercowichan@bc.ca.

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