NIC Social Service department recognizing unsung heroes at 2015 Youth Awards

The LINC Youth Centre is the venue for the second annual Comox Valley Youth Awards Saturday during BC Youth Week.

Young, strong, kind, and passionate about people in our community.

Those are just four of the characteristics NIC Social Service diploma students are looking for when searching for nominees for second annual Comox Valley Youth Awards.

Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula will announce the award recipients at the LINC Youth Centre Saturday, May 2 during BC Youth Week. Everyone is invited to meet this year’s nominees, hear about their passions, and celebrate their contributions.

“We wanted to acknowledge youth who don’t often get a lot of recognition for their work, but who have demonstrated a real strength of character or resiliency this year,” said student Tera Cooper, who helped organize the awards as a group project in her Community Development course at NIC. “They are the real unsung heroes of the community.”

Of the 14 Comox Valley youth that were nominated, six will receive awards and one will be recognized for their outstanding volunteer work, acts of kindness, or contribution to the community.

The original idea was a project in last year’s Community Development course, which challenges Social Service diploma students to make a positive difference in the community.

“We really challenge students in this class to take a broader view of social work – instead of working with individuals and families, we want them to consider the community’s needs,” said NIC’s Human Services department co-chair, Kerri Lowey. “We ask them to find strengths in the community and develop grass-roots initiatives to support them.”

It’s no surprise to her this year’s students wanted to establish the awards.

“Youth generally don’t get awards unless they play sports or get good grades,” she said. “They wanted to reward youth for caring and showing strength and resilience – all values we support in social work.”

Cooper and her classmates Tonya Edwards and Geordie Rutherford want the project to continue long after they graduate.

“We need to find this project a home,” said Cooper. “We believe in its value and know everyone wants to support it, but we need long-term partners.”

The City of Courtenay’s LINC Youth Centre and Youth Unlimited have been ardent supporters, helping to organize and facilitate this year’s awards.  Engrave It donated an 18-year plaque, Affordable Custom Picture Framing donated certificate framing and matting, Thrifty Foods donated a smiley card to purchase snacks, and many generous sponsors have joined forces to support the project.

Awards to date include $50 North Island College gift certificates, City of Courtenay and CVRD youth recreation passes, bus passes, Laughing Oyster Bookshop gift certificates, as well as pizzas and burger gift certificates from Domino’s Pizza and A & W Restaurants.

For more information on the awards, or to help support the project, email cvcommunityyouthaward2015@gmail.com.

For information on NIC’s Social Service diploma, visit www.nic.bc.ca/communitycare.

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