The Leaders of Tomorrow Awards presented by the Grande Prairie Regional Association of Volunteer Organizations, honour outstanding young Leaders in Grande Prairie and the surrounding area. These awards are presented to youth in two age categories, Junior (13-15 years) and Senior (16-18 years). These youth exhibit dedication and excellence in their fields of volunteer work (e.g. school, community, social activism, athletics or arts) and inspire the spirit of volunteerism in others.
The Awards are presented at the Annual Volunteer Awards Ceremony, celebrating International Volunteer Day on December 5th, 2022. The Grande Prairie Regional Association of Volunteer Organizations will notify award winners prior to presentation.
The Leaders of Tomorrow Awards, presented by the Grande Prairie Regional Association of Volunteer Organizations, honour outstanding young leaders in Grande Prairie & the surrounding area. The awards go to youths aged 13 to 18 in four categories:
- Leadership: Recognizing youths who take on leadership roles to effect positive change in their school or community.
- Volunteerism: Acknowledging youths whose civic engagement enriches lives and builds community resilience.
- Advocacy: Celebrating youths who dedicate their time and energy to lending their voice to causes that bring about social change.
- Perseverance: Highlights youths who have overcome adversity or obstacles to help others.
Youths acknowledged in each category display dedication and excellence in their volunteer work, spanning areas such as school, community, social activism, athletics, or arts. They serve as inspirations, encouraging the spirit of volunteerism in others.
The 2023 Leaders of Tomorrow Awards was presented at the Annual International Volunteer Day Celebration Breakfast on December 5th, 2023.
The Leaders of Tomorrow recipients receive a Leaders of Tomorrow trophy, certificate, monetary award of $100, and a $100 donation in their name to a local registered charity of their choice.
Recipients of the 2023 Leaders of Tomorrow Awards are:
Leadership Award - Holly Ruigrok
Holly embodies leadership through character and courage. Her quiet confidence and determination set her apart in rodeo and horse care. Holly’s commitment is evident in her daily dedication to her horses, facing extreme weather and the challenges of training a spirited mare like Tequila. Her leadership extends beyond personal pursuits. She actively volunteers in her school and riding club, contributing to event fundraisers and community activities.
Her passion for horses and rodeo isn’t merely a hobby but a testament to her resilience and tenacity. Holly’s remarkable comeback in the season after her horse’s injury showcases her ability to overcome obstacles with grace. Her skill in managing the fiery Tequila demonstrates her adeptness and composure under pressure.
Perhaps the most striking example of Holly’s leadership is the incident with the beehive on a trail ride. While others fled, Holly’s instinct to protect and lead shone through as she rescued a younger rider with bravery and selflessness. This act of courage speaks volumes of her impact and inspiration to the community.
Holly’s influence is not in her accolades but in her quiet strength. Her leadership style may not be loud, but it’s felt by all, making her a deserving nominee for an award celebrating exceptional young leaders.
Holly’s chosen charity is the Canadian Diabetes Association.
Leadership Award - Robert Nelson
Robert was a beacon of dedication and leadership in his small town of Sexsmith. Since 2019, he has woven himself into the fabric of the community, becoming an integral part of the FCSS Advisory Board. With spirited commitment, he fueled the success of the “Mayors Just Desserts Volunteer Appreciation Evening” for four consecutive years, rallying over 120 volunteers and igniting their passion for community service.
His tireless commitment didn’t stop there. Robert’s presence illuminated various community events like ‘Your Light Up Christmas’ and the vibrant Chautauqua Day. His contagious enthusiasm inspired groups to invest their time and energy into communal endeavours leaving an indelible mark on the town’s civic engagement landscape.
Robert’s community impact is not limited to events alone. He was a devoted member of the Sexsmith Curling Club, where he wore multiple hats, from being an ice manager to a competitive player in local and provincial leagues. His crowning achievement was earning the Gold Ulus status at the Arctic Winter Games. Robert extended his passion for curling by mentoring youngsters in the Junior Curling Program and championing the establishment of a curling program at St. Mary’s Catholic School. Throughout, Robert exuded maturity and dedication, demonstrating exceptional leadership qualities that inspired both young and old. His commitment to community service was unwavering, leaving an enduring impact on the town of Sexsmith and beyond.
Robert’s chosen charity is Cystic Fibrosis Canada.
Volunteerism Award - Polina Kovalinksa
Polina is a beacon of inspiration and embodies the spirit of the Leaders of Tomorrow Award for volunteerism. Hailing from Ukraine, Polina’s journey exemplifies resilience, compassion, and a profound commitment to fostering community bonds.
Polina’s volunteer story unfolds as she engages with her new community through the Grande Prairie Centre for Newcomers. Despite grappling with the challenges of a new language, Polina’s spirit shone brightly as she registered for a summer camp, eager to immerse herself in community activities. During the summer camp, she willingly took on the role of a volunteer despite facing difficulties with the English language. Her dedication to making a positive impact was evident as she assumed responsibilities such as enforcing rules and assisting children who struggled with activities.
Polina’s generosity extended beyond language barriers. Recognizing the language barriers of Ukrainian participants, she acted as an interpreter, bridging gaps and fostering inclusivity. Eager to contribute and learn, she actively sought volunteer opportunities & she became an essential part of community initiatives.
Eager to learn from her community, she found empowerment in giving back. Her selfless acts of volunteerism contribute to the community & also reflect the spirit of helping that defines her sense of belonging. Polina, a newcomer to Canada, represents kindness, resilience, and the transformative power of volunteerism.
Polina’s chosen charity is the Grande Prairie Youth Emergency Shelter Society (Sunrise House).
Volunteerism Award - Alyssa Brown
Alyssa Brown is a shining example of dedication and altruism. Currently attending Sexsmith Secondary High School, Alyssa has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to community service and volunteerism. Alyssa volunteers at the Sexsmith and Area Food Bank. Her consistent involvement showcases her dedication to addressing food insecurity within her community.
Since the seventh grade, Alyssa has been an active member of the Interact Club at her high school, embodying the spirit of service and camaraderie. Alyssa generously volunteers at her local church, where she plays a pivotal role in leading music. Not limited to human causes, Alyssa extends her kindness to the animal kingdom. Her contributions to organizations like Bandaged Paws showcase her empathy towards our four-legged companions.
Alyssa is a testament to the power of youth in making a positive impact. Through her volunteerism, academic excellence, and embodiment of positive qualities, Alyssa stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration for her community and beyond.
Alyssa’s chosen charity is the Sexsmith and Area Food Bank.
Advocacy Award - Rylee Martin
Rylee’s leadership for the past two years within her school’s leadership club has transformed events and initiatives in the school.
She was the driving force behind planning and organizing various school activities, ranging from lunchtime events, to a school-wide cleanup – followed by a rewarding celebration. Her dedication improved the school’s appearance and fostered a sense of unity within the community.
Beyond school, Rylee was a powerhouse of volunteerism, dedicating time to educating grade 5 students about wetland preservation and actively participating in community events like the fall fair. Her passion for renewable energy and local wetland preservation echoed through her commitment.
Rylee’s impactful leadership didn’t stop at her peers; she doubled club attendance and invigorated student involvement. Her passion extended to younger students, guiding them through engaging experiments, fostering awareness of wetland preservation, and creating a welcoming environment within the school.
Rylee’s chosen charity is the Bandaged Paws Animal Rescue Association.
Advocacy Award - Jenna Peterson
Jenna is a remarkable individual whose leadership journey has flourished through her involvement with the Sexsmith 4-H Multi Club. Over seven years, Jenna has not only been an active member but has also held the pivotal role of club president for the past four years, showcasing her commitment to personal and community growth.
Jenna’s positivity radiates within her community. Engaged in several volunteer activities, including Remembrance Day, the Reverse Santa Claus Parade, and Christmas in Sexsmith, she consistently contributes to events hosted by Sexsmith FCSS and various other community initiatives. Jenna’s dedication to making a positive impact is a testament to her sense of community responsibility.
Jenna’s interests extend to entrepreneurship and skills development, reflecting her forward-thinking mindset. She is a leader within the 4-H community and someone with a keen eye for personal growth, acquiring valuable skills that will serve her well in the future.
As a positive advocate for youth involvement in school and community, Jenna encourages her peers to embrace active roles in shaping the future. She embodies the values of belonging and inclusion in her interactions.
Jenna’s chosen charity is Stollery’s Children’s Hospital.
Perseverance Award - Crystal Hepditch
Crystal Hepditch, a Beaverlodge Regional High School student, advocates for positive change and community engagement. She has been honoured with the Leaders of Tomorrow Award for her perseverance. Crystal is part of her school’s Leadership Group Program. Crystal volunteers as a tap dance instructor for youth at Satin Slippers Dance Studio. Her involvement with Wembley & District Agricultural Society’s seasonal events shows her commitment to community development and engagement.
Her passion for creating positive change shows in her involvement with the Town of Wembley, where she volunteered to draft a proposal for a grant to improve sidewalks.
Crystal is known for her kind, generous, and upbeat personality. Her infectious enthusiasm draws peers to her. Her belief in inclusivity and a healthy community resonates in her interactions. Crystal’s honesty, integrity, and humble demeanour contribute to her success as a respected advocate for positive change.
Crystal’s chosen charity is Odyssey House.
Perseverance Award - Kenneth Livesey
Kenneth is a true embodiment of the Leaders of Tomorrow, as he is deeply committed to community service and has shown remarkable resilience in the face of personal challenges. His involvement in the Indigenous Community is a testament to his strong connection to his roots.
Kenneth has volunteered for a wide range of initiatives, including serving on the Spirit Seekers Youth Conference Planning Committee, assisting with the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation event, contributing to the Grande Prairie Pow Wow, and participating in the Wahkotowin Mini Round Dance. He has also volunteered for the Children and Youth Mental Health Project at the University of Calgary and other agencies, making diverse and impactful contributions.
Despite facing challenges such as bullying & the loss of a beloved pet in the past year, Kenneth remains dedicated to community service and is always ready to volunteer at a moment’s notice. We recognize Kenneth as a volunteer, a compassionate leader & cultural ambassador, and we appreciate his exceptional contributions.
Kenneth’s chosen charity is Grande Prairie Friendship Centre’s Wahkotowin Program.