A Grade 12 student at South Delta Secondary School has been honoured with the 2011 B.C. Youth Gandhi Award. The award, presented by the Surrey Chapter of the B.C. Peace And Global Educators (PAGE), recognizes youth who have a passion for giving back to the community and a desire to make the world a better place.
Madelene Van Beek was selected to receive the award because of her compassion for others and her natural ability in a leadership role, which she hones by undertaking initiatives that bring understanding and acceptance to her school.
“She strives to give so much of herself to others for the ‘greater good,’ ” said Julie Lymburner, one of Van Beek’s teachers.
When Van Beek was in grade, 11 she volunteered her time each week to help a grade six student who was struggling socially and academically.
Van Beek was able to offer a sympathetic ear, reliable support, and trusted guidance as the two created art together at the youngster’s elementary school.
Because of Van Beek’s support, the young student was able to move on to grade seven with newfound confidence.
This school year, Van Beek re-introduced the Gay Straight Alliance club at her high school. The group meets once a week, providing a safe and welcoming place for students to discuss social issues. The goal is to create full acceptance of all youth and completely eliminate discrimination.
“Maddy’s open and positive spirit is contagious,” said Lymburner.
Van Beek is also a writer and member of the Slam Poetry, Film, and Drama clubs. Last year, she placed second at the Provincial Poetry Slam Competition. Her poems address politics, societal norms and teen culture.
Her film projects have tackled the subjects of bullying and racism.
Van Beek was honoured with the Youth Gandhi Award in Vancouver.