By Cole Parkinson
With spring in the air, that means local area youth were celebrated at this year’s APEX Youth Awards.
While the awards ceremony was different than in years past — as it was held entirely online due to the pandemic, those in attendance still gathered to celebrate all the great work local kids are doing in the community on April 28.
This year saw 10 youth nominated for the award — Jessica Anderson, Sebastian Hoekstra, Alanna Makarchuk, Chelsey Mills, Cassidy Phillips, Shenise Retzler, Payton Sandau, Susanna Thiessen, Konner Unser and Sara Wiens.
For 2021, $1,500 bursaries from Avail CPA, South Country Co-Op, Town of Taber and Taber Citizens on Patrol were given out with Makarchuk, Unser, Anderson and Mills the lucky recipients.
One of the guests of honour this year was Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Salma Lakhani.
In her address, she spoke about how their work in the community was such a huge benefit for the entire population.
“I would like to offer three thoughts I hope will help you along the path to success. The first is to always remember knowledge is life’s greatest gift. This includes learning you’ve acquired through formal education, as well as the experiences you gain by living an active, engaged life. Knowledge is something that can never be taken away from you because you carry it within your heart and your mind. I know this from personal experience. Each of you has been doing a terrific job learning at school and broadening your experiences by trying new pursuits and getting involved in community life. I encourage you to continue that focus, as you journey forward. Never stopping developing your strengths, your passions and your potential,” she said. “Secondly, you’ve all proven you are thoughtful and caring friends and neighbours in your community. You understand giving back is important and even a small gesture can make a world of difference, especially to someone in need. I hope you will continue to look for opportunities to make things better for others and to always take the lead in fostering the spirit of giving everywhere you go in life.”
“Thirdly, and most importantly, I urge you to continue sharing your energy and positive attitudes with all of us. As you know, the pandemic has made us very aware of the things we need to do to limit the spread of illness — but a positive attitude is one thing we do want to spread to others. Hope and optimism are contagious and they are good things we all need right now.”
Coleen Campbell, one of the founders of the APEX Youth Awards, was the keynote speaker and she offered some words of wisdom for the 10 nominees.
“I’ve read your profiles and each and every one of you fit perfectly into the criteria the APEX Youth Awards were developed for,” she said.
Campbell also touched on the dedication of the APEX committee.
“This committee remains committed to promoting the great youth that should be recognized in our community, just like all of you. This committee’s hard work is why we’re celebrating the 20th annual APEX Youth Awards. I want to say thanks to these members for keeping my baby alive.”
Over the past 20 years, Campbell said 386 youth have been recognized over the 20 years and $120,000 has been awarded.
“When the program started 20 years ago, the thought was youth were not given the recognition they deserved, and unfortunately that still may be the case. There has always been academic and athletic awards for our youth, but there are a large group of children and youth adults who don’t fit into either of the categories. They are just good kids who show commitment to making life better for others, more than what is expected from kids their age. That is all of you.”
The APEX Youth program started as a partnership with the Taber Rotary Club and the Taber Times, but when the original Rotary Club of Taber disbanded in 2008, concerned community leaders felt the APEX program was important enough to continue. Together, they formed the APEX Committee and with the Taber Times have continued to organize the event.