Tlell student among top 20 under 20

  • Aug. 22, 2007 5:00 a.m.

Every year, the Youth in Motion organization searches out a small group of young, innovative Canadians and names them the country’s “Top 20 under 20”. You’d think the chances of a teen from the islands, with its tiny population, being chosen for this honour are pretty slim. But amazingly enough, an islander has been named to the top 20 not once, but twice in the past three years. Joe Lavoie received the honour in 2005 and this year, April Dutheil won the award, which consists of a $2,000 bursary and a trip to Toronto for a youth summit with the other winners. Ms Dutheil said her trip to Toronto, which took place in early June, was a great experience. The students spent a day volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, an organization which builds homes for low-income people, hammering nails and painting. The young people were introduced to business leaders and etiquette experts, attended a Blue Jays game, and were interviewed on television. “The best part of the whole experience was networking with the other youth,” said April, who just finished grade 12 at Queen Charlotte Secondary. “Making those connections – there are young people working on cancer research, allergy research.” Some of the students, like April, were interested in medical research, others had started their own businesses, worked on environmental initiatives or worked in developing countries. One of the main topics of discussion among the youth was global warming, she said – and many of them had ideas about how to address it. “I think we’ve all studied it so much in school, and we’ve seen the world is changing,” she said. “It’s up to our generation to do something about it.” As part of the award, April will be matched up with a mentor for the next eight months and will be able to take university courses over the internet. She’ll also go back to Ontario every year for a reunion with her fellow top 20. “They’re really investing in youth for the future,” she said. “It’s not a short-term one at all.” April said that one of the challenges she has struggled with was being shy, but she got over this around grade 10. Asked if she has any words of advice for young people, she reflected for several moments, then said: “Believe in yourself, because everyone has something important to say. If you can believe in yourself, your morals and your ideas, other people will believe it too. Also, if you see something you can do in your community, no matter how small – do it. Every bit makes a difference.”

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