ROTARY ROUNDUP: Community's youth inspire

by Brenda Gibson

It feels good to reflect back on happy memories and be inspired.

One of my favourite things about Facebook is its clever little algorithm that inserts past events into my feed. Today’s gift was being reminded of the Rotary Roundup article I wrote last year about an annual Rotary event for youth (Learning valuable lessons in leadership, Feb 10, 2016).

Youth Adventures in Leadership (YAIL) took place again in South Surrey a few weeks ago, drawing 65 participants ages 15-17. The locally developed curriculum of the weekend aims to “create a well-rounded individual with increased perspective and enthusiasm for growth, who is able to make informed decisions… empowering them to network, plan, and set goals.”

Hearing from one attendee, Semiahmoo Rotary’s exchange student Nicholas, drove home to me the impact this event has on its participants. I’m confident Nico’s life will never be the same.

Visit for more information about this transformative adventure and how to get youth involved.

Call for nominations

The annual SASSY Awards (Service Above Self Surrey Youth Awards) was developed by Semiahmoo Rotary to celebrate and support our community’s exceptional youth for their outstanding contributions locally and internally.

Now with multi-club participation and in its seventh year, this year’s nominations are currently open.

Do you know of a youth aged 15 to 21 living in Surrey or White Rock who deserves to be honoured for their positive impact in our community and around the world?

Submissions are open until March 9. Visit for nomination forms, and be sure to save the date for the awards show on Friday, May 12. Held at the Surrey Arts Centre, doors will open one hour before the 8 p.m. show.

Tickets can be purchased in April online at the SASSY website or at

Back to school

Last November, I participated in mock interviews at Semiahmoo Secondary school.

Not having children, I hadn’t darkened the door of a public school in decades, and I wasn’t sure what I’d find once I did.

I was blown away by the calibre of kids I met there.

Grade 10 Planning is a mandatory course in B.C., designed to help students consider their future lifestyle and career options, and give them time and resources to begin making steps towards their goals.

Mock interviews are an important aspect of the course, proving an opportunity for students to practice creating cover letters and resumes, and participate in job interviews.

“Real people” – that is, volunteers from outside the school – are a vital component to elevate the formality and add to the real world feel of the experience.

Approximately 200 students took part in the day-long event, requiring an army of volunteers, many of whom are local Rotarians.

The feedback from my counterparts was the same – our young people are impressive!

I was humbled. In comparison, I was pretty lazy, entitled and disengaged at their age. The experience filled me with great hope for our youth and the future.

With all the negative attitudes floating around about millennials, it's good to be reminded of how many outstanding, engaged and inspirational young people we have in our community. Let’s celebrate them!

As Shantelle Medel, recipient of the Community Service SASSY Award in 2012 said, “The recognition is really amazing for young people. We’re all trying our best and it’s great to know people are supporting us.”

Brenda Gibson writes monthly on behalf of the Semiahmoo Peninsula's five Rotary Clubs –

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