SURREY — Some local teens and young adults were feeling pretty SASSY on Friday night (May 12).
At Surrey Arts Centre, an annual gala celebrated seven winners of this year’s Service Above Self Surrey Youth awards.
The SASSYs honour the achievements of local youth in an event sponsored by Semiahmoo Rotary Club.
The 2017 award winners are Sukhpreet (Sam) Devgun (Overcoming Adversity), Premvir Singh Samra (Community Service), Shawna Narayan (Youth Leadership), Gurmehak Bhourji (Arts & Culture Leadership), Devansh Babla (Environmental Leadership), Pallvi Sehijpaul (International Leadership) and Yousof Al-Autman (Sports Leadership).
Winners are given a $1,000 bursary and $500 to donate to a registered charity of their choice.
“The City of Surrey recognizes that youth are a valuable part of our community, and we are proud of their active contributions, ideas and perspectives in civic life,” Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner stated.
“Thank you to our sponsors, our amazing performers and award recipients who made this year’s event another great success.”
The SASSY Awards have continuously been a key platform that honours youth who engage, grow and lead while making a difference in Surrey, said Councillor Mike Starchuk.
“Youth play a major role in our city, and we’re proud of their commitment to making Surrey a great place for other youth to excel.”
The awards show featured performances by pianist/singer Ben Dunnill, Madelin Haugen from Circus Lab, vocalist Maya Rae, the band Eleven09 and Jazz Minds, a jazz ensemble from Panorama Ridge Secondary.
Proceeds from the SASSYs support the Rotary Club’s Interact program, in which local youth lead projects to help other youth.
More details are posted at Sassyawards.ca.
Shown below are biographies of the 2017 award winners, as supplied by SASSY event organizers:
Gurmehak Bhourji (Arts & Culture Leadership)
Gurmehak is a 16-year-old student at Panorama Ridge Secondary School. She plays two traditional Indian instruments and performs vocals at the YACOS’s Canvas Coffee House, at Sikh temples and at Laurel Place (hospice society). She has an interest in photography, participating in Just Doors, and organized her school’s very first art exhibition of works from her school community. She is currently chair of the Youth Arts Council of Surrey (YACOS). She has organized events such as Surrey Shines, the YES Fashion Show, the Write On playwright contest and the seasonal Canvas Coffee Houses. In addition, she promotes the importance of eating a healthy diet amongst youth, organizing 10 workshops for preparing healthy meals.
Premvir Samra (Community Service)
Premvir, a 16-year-old student at LA Matheson Secondary, is editor of the school’s yearbook. He is a member of the Surrey Leadership Youth Council, the Surrey Youth Street Squad and an ambassador for the City’s Parks, Recreaction, and Culture Strategic Plan engagement process. Through these volunteer efforts, Premvir is helping to inform and shape policy that affects children and youth in Surrey. He also volunteers with the Big Brothers after school program, Boys and Girls Club summer camps, Surrey Arts Centre and the Surrey Crime Prevention Society.
Devansh Babla (Environmental Leadership)
Devansh is a 17-year-old student at Enver Creek Secondary, where he is an essential part of the school’s green team and the face of Enver Creek’s sustainability initiatives. He is co-ordinatior of the school’s green team that launched a greenhouse project growing food for the school’s cafeteria. He has co-led the Surrey Youth Sustainability Network, hosting several events and planning an outdoor sustainability conference. He has a passion for the environment, and his aspiration is to change, influence and better his community by creating awareness – a ripple effect – and promoting the idea of sustainability.
Pallvi Sehijpaul (International Leadership)
Pallvi, an 18-year-old student at Sullivan Heights Secondary, is vice-president on the Student Council. She volunteers with Global Girl Power to help empower young women. With Girl Power, she took on the Clean Water Project, a sustainable clean-water project in Kurali, India. Over two years, she held events to raise the funds and create awareness. The project consisted of building a well in the new children’s building, allowing water accessibility to more than 200 residents. Pavli believes in making the world a better place, and has participated in a number of travel studies to learn about history and cultures.
Yousof Al-Autman (Sports Leadership)
Yousof, a 17-year-old student at Guildford Park Secondary, is a member of student council, grad council, member of the rugby team and captain of the wrestling team. He is a volunteer coach at Rustom Wrestling Club, becoming a role model for hard work and determination, training, coaching and mentoring younger athletes seven days a week. He has become an official referee with BC Wrestling Officials Association, contributing to the promotion of the sport to youth and wrestlers of all ages throughout B.C.
Shawna Narayan (Youth Leadership)
Shawna is a 20-year-old student at the University of British Columbia and a graduate of Frank Hurt Secondary. Shawna created Empower The Future, a mentorship organization for students in inner-city schools to provide mentorship and support. She created engaging workshops for high school students. It specifically helps high school students connect with university students who mentor and provide resources for “life after high school.” She actively volunteers in the community through research and community-based health/education projects, and has a commitment to help others, particularly at-risk youth. She has volunteered with numerous organizations, and organized fundraising event for high school scholarships.
Sukhpreet Devgun (Overcoming Adversity)
Sukpreet (Sam) is a 17-year-old student at LA Matheson Secondary. Sam had a difficult childhood, shuffled back and forth to live with various relatives in Canda, India and the U.S. He finally found roots at LA Matheson. Not wanting to go home, he became involved in yearbook, the school spirit squad and the school store. He became involved with the TECH crew, helping to maintain the technology throughout the school. With the yearbook, he developed photography, design and writing skills. The yearbook team seemed like family and home. He now mentors younger staff on the yearbook team. He is also manager of the school store.