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"Everyone says that youth are the leaders of tomorrow but I say that we’re also the leaders of today."
Mackenzie Investments and StudentAwards have selected Abirami Kirubarajan of Mississauga, Ontario as the winner of the sixth annual Canada's Top Teen Philanthropist contest.
Abirami was awarded $2,500 for personal investment and an additional $5,000 for her volunteer work with Peel Multicultural Council (PMC). For over three years, Abirami has supported PMC's vision of creating a harmonious multicultural society by increasing communication and building bridges of understanding among various ethno-cultural groups, institutions and the community.
Through her work, she founded the PMC Youth Advisory, which helps immigrated youth integrate into Canadian culture while overcoming the stresses of a new world. This program encourages newly immigrated youth to build self-confidence and make friends, while giving back to the community and honing leadership skills. To date, the program has benefited more than 600 students.
After a trip to the Antarctic two years ago that changed her perspective on climate change, Leah has volunteered with the Students on Ice Foundation. The organization enables economically disadvantaged youth to tour the Arctic and Antarctic so they can see the firsthand effects of climate change. Leah has also launched Act for Antarctica, a campaign that hopes to educate 1000 students from across the world about Antarctica and undertake a conservation act to fight for its protection by March 2014.
For more than six years, Oksana Kishchuk has aided fundraising and recruitment initiatives and has enhanced awareness for Free the Children, an organization that helps communities in Asia, Africa and Latin America lift themselves out of poverty. Oksana has also raised over $25,000 to support the construction of a boy’s secondary school in Kenya.
Shivani has dedicated countless hours volunteering on behalf of the Burnaby Task Force on Homelessness. She has worked directly in the community, seeking engagement and support, hosted various fundraising initiatives and started a school club, all to help end homelessness in Burnaby.
In 2009, Divya launched the Pencils for Kids (P4K) Markham chapter with the goal of providing underprivileged children in West Africa access to education. With the work of more than 150 members, P4K Markham has raised over $10,000 in cash and school supplies and has built five P4K schools in Niger that have changed the lives of over 350 families and communities.
After working with Covenant House Vancouver, Vivian was inspired to spearhead the Humanitarian Organization for Providing Empowerment (HOPE) with the mission to bridge the gap between vulnerable groups in society and give them practical resources to escape from their troubling circumstances. Through various initiatives, HOPE’s team of 30 has spent 1,000 hours making their school community a more welcoming place for marginalized adolescents.
Again, thank you to all our applicants!
For other great scholarship and contest opportunities, please visit www.studentawards.com
Firrhaana Sayanvala, 17, Cambridge, Ontario: When Firrhaana began volunteering at the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank for more than four years, she was impressed by the staff’s supportive, friendly and non-judgmental approach. She continues to be involved in a number of fundraising events, often in a leadership role, to assist the food bank, plus she has assumed an activist role of promoting the charity and recruiting others to lend a hand. Through Firrhaana’s tireless efforts, support for Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank has grown, allowing the charity to help more people in need, when they need it most.
Jenna Cottrill, 17, Wallace, NS: When a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, Jenna wanted to help. She found a Canadian-registered charity called God’s Littlest Angels Canada (GLA) that is dedicated to providing intensive nursery care for premature, malnourished and abandoned children in Haiti. Jenna engaged her community to collect relief supplies, plus she started a successful fundraiser by creating and selling cards and bookmarks featuring pictures drawn by children in the GLA orphanage. Jenna even spent two weeks volunteering in Haiti with plans for more in the near future.
Hannah Dalton, 17, Montreal, QC: Hannah is committed to helping children around the world receive an education, escape poverty and avoid exploitation. A news report about horrendous working conditions for children at a clothing factory in India was the catalyst for Hannah to help impoverished children gain an education that may ultimately free them from abusive child labour situations. Her chosen charity, Free The Children, fights social injustice and gives a voice to the voiceless. Hannah has collected almost $4,000 from various fundraising events towards building a much-needed school in Sierra Leone.
Arielle Grondin, 16, Tecumseh, ON: Having battled the debilitating and life-threatening effects of cystic fibrosis (CF) since birth, Arielle’s commitment to Cystic Fibrosis Canada is both wholehearted and highly personal. She has rallied her community through a fundraiser called “Music for Life,” an event featuring young performers that Arielle created to raise awareness of CF. This event has gained so much support that media interest has been widespread, helping to promote her charity even more. Inspirational and passionate, Arielle is doing everything she can to help find a cure for CF.
Paige Roper, 17, Pitt Meadows, BC: Paige’s journey to becoming a spokesperson for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation was filled with challenges. At 10 she was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. While being treated at BC Children’s Hospital, Paige encountered enormous pain and suffering – both her own and that of other children. When she recovered the foundation asked her to be a spokesperson, a request she fulfilled without hesitation. Paige speaks at many fundraising events and writes a blog for the foundation, motivating many people to provide financial and emotional support to this worthy cause.
Shannon Wong, 17, Richmond Hill, ON: Involved in her charity for over seven years and 2,000 hours of volunteering, Shannon is clearly committed to the cause. Free The Children works worldwide to help remove barriers like poverty and exploitation so children can lead active, meaningful lives. Touched by the inequity and deprivation many children face, Shannon has taken action and mobilized others to get involved. She participates in fundraising events and campaigns, committing her own money – from her part-time job, academic competition cash awards and donations she requests in lieu of birthday presents – to support her charity.
Alaina Podmorow: She wants to change the world, and she has taken one more step in that direction by donating $5,000 to a registered charity after being named “Canada’s Top Teen Philanthropist” in Mackenzie Investments’ fourth annual national search. As Canada’s Top Teen Philanthropist of 2011, Alaina receives a $5,000 donation, directed in her name, to Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan. She also personally receives $2,500. For more than five years, Alaina has worked on her grassroots charity, Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan, which supports the education of women and girls in Afghanistan. The charity raises money to pay for teachers’ salaries, train teachers and provide libraries for rural villages. Alaina believes education is the stepping stone towards peace and has donated more than 2,000 hours to her cause. Her efforts to date have raised more than $35,000.
Perri Tutelman, 18, Richmond, BC: Perri is the founder of Cures for Kids Foundation, a registered charity dedicated to raising funds and awareness for children’s immunological disorders. More than $100,000 dollars has been raised through Perri’s efforts which were supported by the foundation’s signature fundraising event, the “Making Magic Show”.
Achan Akwai Chaam, 18, Ottawa, ON: Achan has stopped keeping track of the amount of hours she volunteers for her local Boys and Girls club because they helped her so much and in her words, "they deserve my time". A new Canadian who was born in Sudan, she found solace in the club that offered a place to learn and grow. She is now an active volunteer, member and Junior Youth worker with the organization.
Laura Wallace, 19, Devon, AB: Volunteering for her sister’s charity, the Olive Tree Foundation, Laura lived for a year in Haiti where she helped the organization with its work serving the women and children of Jacmel, Haiti, by providing maternity care at a fully functioning birthing centre. Before she travelled there, Laura also helped fundraise for this worthy cause.
Peter Gatti, 17, Toronto, ON: As a leukemia survivor, Peter supports the charity Tour for Kids Atlantic – an organization that raises money to support camps for childhood cancer patients through cycling events such as rides across Canada, weekend provincial rides and in-school stationary bike rides. These camps are free, and fully medically staffed and are often the only camps that cancer patients can attend. Along with volunteering, Peter also completed a 2000 kilometer bike ride from Vancouver to Austin, Texas to help raise money for this cause.
Leena Bourne, 17, Petrolia, ON: Creator of Love Beads for Leukemia, Leena developed this fundraising program to help her cope with the stress of having a father diagnosed with the disease. Her main goal of making the beaded bracelets is to spread hope, and with more than $30,000 raised going directly towards Cancer Research, and to children's cancer programs at the London Regional Cancer Clinic, she is doing just that.