COLUMN: Celebrate our young role models

The majority of our youth make positive contributions to their communities.

The young people in our communities are our strength. They do wonderful things and they give us hope for the future.

I do sometimes wonder, though, how they can do as well as they do given the examples that are being set for them.

There has been extensive news coverage of Lower Mainland youth either murdered, in jail, or wanted by the police because of their poor choices. This violence is a result of drug trafficking and turf wars.

This irony was not lost on me, when I watched the news coverage of “4-20,” which celebrates the use of marijuana. This event, at which thousands of people lit up a joint, kept the local hospital busy as many of them ended up in the ER due to excessive levels of drug consumption.

I question what message we are sending our kids with back-to-back news coverage about drug wars and pot parties.

In addition to these mixed messages, our youth are also barraged by media accounts of young Canadians travelling overseas to participate in terrorist activity, and we are updated daily on the civil unrest in the U.S. caused by police use-of-force against mostly young minorities.

Closer to home, we hear about parents that are banned from junior ice hockey rinks, and sports teams that do not even allow parents to attend games due to obnoxious behaviour in the stands.

It is a wonder that our youth know anything but pessimism, when you consider the examples we set as adults and the attention we give to negative behaviour.

Thankfully, the majority of our youth make positive contributions to their communities through their schools, sports teams, religious groups, arts and culture.

We don’t talk enough out about these kids, who aspire to great things and give back through volunteerism. We need to spend more time recognizing those that overcome adversity and challenges, carving positive paths out of difficult terrain. It is important to me that we celebrate our youth and recognize that there are far more good than bad.

I am proud to be working with the Rotary Clubs of North Delta, Ladner and Tsawwassen, to organize the seventh annual Delta Rotary Youth Awards. The youth recognized at this event are our future leaders and quietly do good work in their schools, homes, churches and social circles. The stories are incredible, from a young woman who raised money to purchase headstones for unknown soldiers, to a boy who collected and shipped hundreds of hockey sticks to children in India, to another boy who struggled to overcome the death of his mother – his only support system in the world.

These youth do good without the need to be recognized, they are resilient to the challenges of the world and they are role models for all of us.

On May 14, at the Genesis Theatre in Ladner, we will be honouring these youth who are more than deserving of recognition. If you know of someone between the ages of 10 and 18 you would like to nominate, please contact Leslie Abramson at or 604-946-0672.

Jim Cessford is the retired chief of the Delta Police Department. He has spent more than 40 years in law enforcement.


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