Seven award winners were celebrated during the 2018 SASSY Awards at Surrey City Hall’s Centre Stage theatre on Thursday, May 17. Pictured from left to right are Julia Paler, Cindy Zeng, Vivian Pham, Emma Salisbury, Ian Chen, Olivia Barbieri and Jaymie Cristobal. (submitted photo: Kim Bellavance)

‘SASSY’ awards for seven Surrey students

Annual awards night held at Surrey City Hall on Thursday

The achievements of seven Surrey students were celebrated during the 2018 SASSY Awards held Thursday (May 17) at Centre Stage, the theatre at Surrey City Hall.

The annual awards event salutes local youth aged 15 to 21 who “are making a difference in our community by demonstrating the Rotary ideal of ‘Service Above Self.’”

This year’s award winners are Xin Yi (Cindy) Zeng (in the category of Community Service), Julia Paler (Environmental Leadership), Emma Salisbury (Overcoming Adversity), Jaymie Cristobal (Arts and Culture Leadership), Olivia Barbieri (Sports Leadership) and Van Ahn (Vivian) Tran Pham (Youth Leadership). Also, Ian Chen, a top-three finalist in the Community Service category, was the winner of a $1,000 draw held for all nominees at the end of the evening event.

• RELATED STORY, FROM 2017: SASSY awards for seven Surrey teens/young adults.

Each award recipient receives $1,000, a stylized SASSY trophy and $500 they can direct to a registered Canadian charity of their choice.

“It was truly a night of youth celebration,” Allan Baedak, who produced the event, told the Now-Leader.

“Shawna Narayan, a 2017 Youth Leadership recipient, did a fantastic job as our emcee for the evening and the nominee reception,” he added. “Ben Dunnill (piano and accordion) was our musical director, joined by Chelsea Ross playing the guzheng (Chinese zither), Solea Rose (on) vocals, Julie Lin on violin and Nathan Tapsas on guitar. The music was exceptional.”

Community Service award winner Cindy Zeng told event producers that the ceremony “was an amazing experience. It is such an honour to receive this award and I’m so glad Surrey Urban Mission will receive the donation (for $500) to continue doing incredible things. I was tremendously inspired tonight, listening to the stories of all the young leaders around me. I’m honoured to be able to stand alongside them.”

Posted below are biographies of each SASSY Award winner for 2018:

(Click on the award/name to see video for each winner)

Community Service: Xin Yi (Cindy) Zeng

“Cindy attends Queen Elizabeth Secondary and is 18 years old. She is the founder and co-chair of the Justice Education Club, which works to make the law interesting for youth. Cindy leads a team of peers to research diverse areas of youth law, and they write scripts and record voiceovers to produce animated and humorous videos that are educational and engaging, and have been viewed across Canada. As a volunteer organizer for Surrey Urban Mission, Cindy gathers student volunteers each week to be of service in its soup kitchen, helping to brighten the day of those in need of its service.”

Environmental Leadership: Julia Paler

“Julia is 16 years old and attends Sullivan Heights Secondary, where she co-founded the Green Team, launched a variety of initiatives within the school, and organized and recruited volunteers for clean-ups on the school grounds as well as along the shoreline. Her team reduced the power used at their school by around 20%, winning the Energy Cup Competition in the district. Julia was the leader in building a community garden and structuring a gardening program at a seniors’ home. Her passion for the environment is not just a leadership initiative, but it has become a lifestyle.

Arts and Culture Leadership: Jaymie Cristobal

“Jaymie is a 17-year-old student at Guildford Park Secondary and is a Children’s Art Program Assistant at the Surrey Arts Centre, facilitating art camps and events for young children. She is a member of her school’s Culture Club, Slam Poetry Club and writes and photographs for the school’s Sabre Gazette. Jaymie is also working with a team on a grant application for an interactive photography art installation that highlights the student voice and individuality, to cultivate a more inspiring space. She is interested in literature and theatre, and seeks to understand how art connects us all.”

Sports Leadership: Olivia Barbieri

“Olivia attends Guildford Park Secondary and is 17 years old. She has been a dancer for much of her life and is a student teacher for young children. Her passion is soccer coaching and she currently helps manage 15 teams in a league that was at risk of no play without her stepping in to take on that role. She has taken coaching courses and works to learn drills and techniques that are engaging for the children. She hopes to earn a degree in communications and business administration, and to become the president of FIFA.”

Overcoming Adversity: Emma Salisbury

“Attending Sullivan Heights Secondary, Emma is 18. She was to study ballet at the highest level, but a lupus diagnosis and the effects of a subsequent stroke changed Emma’s life forever. She plans to earn a degree in social work so she can help others in situations similar to hers and give back to the community. Emma works to bring awareness to the empowerment of women and for those who are disabled. She volunteers with Panorama School of Dance, BC Lupus Society, Youth Advisory Committee at BC Children’s Hospital and is a campaign ambassador for I Am Resilience.”

• RELATED STORY: Surrey teen spends World Lupus Day telling students about disease that changed her life, from May 10.

Youth Leadership: Van Ahn (Vivian) Tran Pham

“Vivian attends Guildford Park Secondary and is 16 years old. She created Sabre Service, a club that replaced the traditional Student Council model, where all members share in the responsibility and opportunity to lead, focussing on student engagement and role modeling. Vivian also created Wish Youth Network Society, a student-lead non-profit organization that seeks to empower terminally ill youth located in the lower mainland through financial aid. She works part time and tutors elementary school kids struggling with reading and math. She has been on the track team and is in the school band.”

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