Callum Neily won the youth leadership award. The awards were presented in the categories of community service, youth leadership, sports leadership, leadership beyond adversity, international service, environmental leadership, and arts and culture leadership. (Honey Mustard Media/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Callum Neily won the youth leadership award. The awards were presented in the categories of community service, youth leadership, sports leadership, leadership beyond adversity, international service, environmental leadership, and arts and culture leadership. (Honey Mustard Media/Special to Langley Advance Times)

6 Langley youth awarded for leadership efforts

SASSY awards presented during a public ceremony

Acknowledging the initiatives of Langley youth, the local Rotary Clubs presented six young leaders the ‘Service Above Self Students and Youth’ (SASSY) awards in a public ceremony.

The awards were presented in six of the seven categories this year, including community service, youth leadership, sports leadership, leadership beyond adversity, international service, environmental leadership, and arts and culture leadership. No award was presented in the international service category this year.

After receiving numerous nominations, the organizers invited most of the nominees for an interview with the judges. The winners were then announced during a ceremony last week – along with the finalists.

Each award recipient receives a $1,000 bursary and SASSY Award trophy. The two runner-ups in each category receive a $500 bursary.

RELATED: Local Rotary Clubs honour youth leaders on Thursday night

The list of award recipients is below:

1. Environmental leadership award:

Choigaon Park

The 17-year-old is a student of Walnut Grove Secondary. Park is currently the president of the green team club at his high school. His community service initiatives include teaching youth about the environment and sustainability through informative videos.

The judging panel loved Park and his team’s efforts towards building sustainable products from shredded single-use plastic.

“Environmentalism should not be a favour that people take but instead a responsibility that we should all embody,” said Park.

2. Community service award:

Evan Dyce

A student of Aldergrove Community Secondary, Dyce has worked with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Langley, Langley Literacy Network, and Canada Learning Code – all to help younger kids learn and grow.

“Being able to have that impact on kids is what I am proud of,” said the 18-year-old.

3. Youth leadership award:

Callum Neily

A student of Walnut Grove Secondary, as well, 18-year-old Neily started a foundation called ‘Tutoring With Callum’ to help people financially and academically disadvantaged by the pandemic.

Captain of his basketball team, Neily is also an active athlete.

“I am trying to be a good role model for people in the community, especially for youth. It is so valuable to me. When I started, I was vulnerable and new. But later, I realized even one person can make a difference in the community.”

4. Sports leadership award:

Kevin Kao

The 18-year-old from Walnut Grove Secondary started a club called Good Sports Club with his friend to provide opportunities for younger kids to explore different sports.

Kao is also a member of the Walnut Grove Gators’ basketball team. He has been a member of the team since Grade 8 and has served as captain for five years.

He was inspired to take the initiative after learning the impact of COVID on those wanting to learn a sport.

“I am super proud of how far we have come,” he said.

5. Arts and culture leadership award:

Emily Venturino

A Brookswood Secondary student, Venturino is actively involved in arts and performing theatre at her school.

This year, she wrote her own play, which was selected as one of the outstanding plays at a competition.

Many younger crew members consider Venturino a role model and an older sister as she always helps them learn and grow.

“I think arts is important as it helps people find home.”

6. Leadership beyond adversity award:

Daniel Lee

Along with Kao, Lee started the Good Sports Club to provide students without resources with some opportunities to play sports.

“I am passionate about these issues because I have been in that place.”

The duo has organized a basketball club and other activities in the past.

READ MORE: SASSY Awards recognize Langley’s outstanding youths

Andria Popovici, a member of Rotary Club of Langley Sunrise, said that “the quality of applications this year was absolutely top notch.”

Expressing her gratitude to community partners and those who sponsored the event, Popovici said the event would have been difficult to organize without their support.

About 100 people, including local school board trustees, school administrators, youth, and their families and friends, attended the annual ceremony at the Chief Sepass Theatre in Fort Langley.

“Attendance was lower than previous years, and is understandable based on the lack of events occurring over the previous two years,” Popovici concluded.

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Emily Venturino won the arts and culture leadership award. The awards were presented in the categories of community service, youth leadership, sports leadership, leadership beyond adversity, international service, environmental leadership, and arts and culture leadership. (Honey Mustard Media/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Emily Venturino won the arts and culture leadership award. The awards were presented in the categories of community service, youth leadership, sports leadership, leadership beyond adversity, international service, environmental leadership, and arts and culture leadership. (Honey Mustard Media/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Choigaon Park is the winner of environmental leadership award. The awards were presented in the categories of community service, youth leadership, sports leadership, leadership beyond adversity, international service, environmental leadership, and arts and culture leadership. (Honey Mustard Media/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Choigaon Park is the winner of environmental leadership award. The awards were presented in the categories of community service, youth leadership, sports leadership, leadership beyond adversity, international service, environmental leadership, and arts and culture leadership. (Honey Mustard Media/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Choigaon Park is the winner of environmental leadership award. The awards were presented in the categories of community service, youth leadership, sports leadership, leadership beyond adversity, international service, environmental leadership, and arts and culture leadership. (Honey Mustard Media/Special to Langley Advance Times) Choigaon Park is the winner of environmental leadership award. The awards were presented in the categories of community service, youth leadership, sports leadership, leadership beyond adversity, international service, environmental leadership, and arts and culture leadership. (Honey Mustard Media/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Evan Dyce won the Community Service Award.
The awards were presented in the categories of community service, youth leadership, sports leadership, leadership beyond adversity, international service, environmental leadership and arts and culture leadership. (Honey Mustard Media)

Kevin Kao won the sports leadership award. The awards were presented in the categories of community service, youth leadership, sports leadership, leadership beyond adversity, international service, environmental leadership, and arts and culture leadership. (Honey Mustard Media/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Kevin Kao won the sports leadership award. The awards were presented in the categories of community service, youth leadership, sports leadership, leadership beyond adversity, international service, environmental leadership, and arts and culture leadership. (Honey Mustard Media/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Daniel Lee won the Sports Leadership Award. The awards were presented in the categories of community service, youth leadership, sports leadership, leadership beyond adversity, international service, environmental leadership and arts and culture leadership. (Honey Mustard Media)