Semiahmoo Rotary Club has announced the winners of its 2021 Service Above Self Surrey Youth (SASSY) Awards.
The six recipients of a $1,500 award – $500 of which is donated to a charity of their choice – are Desmond Tompkins, in the Arts & Culture Leadership category; Sukhraj Dhunna (Community Service); Isabella Sleeth (Environmental Leadership); Maryam Haroon (International Service); Julia Hwang (Overcoming Adversity); and Dev Saroya (Sports & Recreation Leadership).
According to bios included in the release:
• Tompkins is a 17-year-old artist who uses his work to bring attention to social issues and to create dialogue about diversity and social identity. He organized and curated a local art show. He was awarded the 2020 Artistic Achievement from the South-Surrey White Rock Learning Centre and his work was showcased in the UK-based Museum of Transology online gallery.
• Dhunna founded a global society called Leaders Inspiring Neighbouring Communities (LINC) in response to the lack of connection and support he was seeing on a number of levels in his own community. He has organized more than 100 youth to contribute to the social and environmental well-being of Surrey through work with the Surrey Food Bank, Nightshift Street Ministries, the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-Up, Ocean Heroes and others.
• Sleeth has developed many projects as a result of her commitment to a sustainable environment. She is a member of the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s “Wild Outside” youth program where she worked on a habitat rehabilitation project and continues to participate in volunteer activities and educational seminars. Along with a friend, she started a small secondhand apparel/thrifting business dedicated to reducing the impacts of fast-fashion and consumerism.
• Haroon was an international ambassador for Korean and Japanese students in Grade 10 and is now communications director at Break the Divide Foundation, providing youth with a platform to connect around the world, creating 10 new chapters across Canada, while connecting with youth in Bolivia, Russia and Taiwan who became united in their struggles to cope with a variety of issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Hwang used the challenges she faced in an unstable family life as a motivator to do more. She had taken on adult responsibilities in Grade 3 and by around the age of 10 she was collecting recyclables to pay for her school field trips and contribute to household bills. During the pandemic, she led a drive-thru gift event for families in Surrey and White Rock. She credits the ongoing support of many of her teachers for her many successes, which include graduating with honours and more than 64 additional credits than required, and is hoping to pursue post-secondary opportunities.
• Saroya saw firsthand the value of sports in keeping local youth away from negative influences such as drugs and gangs. He volunteered at numerous basketball youth camps and sporting events to ensure that other youth have the same opportunities he has enjoyed. He stepped up during the pandemic to coach and referee games at his school that would otherwise have been cancelled, sharing his love of the game.
The SASSY awards honour individuals between 15-21 who live, work, volunteer or study in Surrey and White Rock. Since 2011, $76,000 has been awarded to youth and $38,000 to Canadian charities.
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