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July 17, 2005
Youth awards recognize vision, advocacy, leadership
On Sunday, July 17, five young people and one organization were awarded
Identify ‘n’ Impact Youth awards, which celebrate the valuable contributions
young people make to communities across Toronto. These awards, hosted by the
Toronto Youth Cabinet, were presented at The Cause, the Cabinet’s annual
celebration of youth voice and action.

"These awards are about celebrating everything that is right about youth in
Toronto today," said Councillor Olivia Chow (Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina), Toronto’
s Children and Youth Advocate. "Each of these winners shows that positive
action really does happen one person, or one organization, at a time. It’s very
uplifting to see these stories and meet these amazing young people, and also to
see how the community and various City divisions have come on board to lend
their support and their recognition of some very special young people."

Naveen Hassan received the Amazing Young Activist award. This 17-year-old high
school student chairs her school’s Empowered Student Partnerships program, and
her work to combat drinking and driving has included arranging for a wrecked
car to be displayed on her school’s lawn. Naveen also serves as Toronto’s
representative for Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving.

The Dedication to Youth Advocacy award was presented to Thadsha Navamanikkam,
24, who already has a full decade of experience advocating for youth. Currently
a director of the Canadian Tamil Youth Development Centre, Thadsha works with
the media to promote positive coverage of Tamil youth, and is committed to
engaging and empowering youth.

The award for Building Community through the Arts or Athletics was presented to
ayden scheim, 18, who is at the forefront of a movement that uses art to allow
marginalized youth to speak out, fight back and build together. He works with
the Youth Arts Project at the Griffin Centre, to provide support and a sense of
community for queer and trans youth in North York.

John Campbell, 23, received the Street Level Advocate award. John has taken his
life experience, turned it around and used it to empower others. John got
involved with Project Not So Much, where he learned to make positive choices
for himself. He now facilitates the program, acting as mentor and male role
model to street-involved youth.

The Newcomer Youth Activist award was presented to Gwen Wang, 17, who has
overcome financial and language barriers to exceed everyone’s expectations but
her own. She has received awards for athletics, choir and academic achievement,
and she has volunteered in hospitals, settlement agencies, schools, community
organizations, and as a peer educator.

East Metro Youth Services received the Enabling Collective Action award. This
organization’s Violence Intervention Project empowers youth to involve their
peers in ensuring that violence is not tolerated. The group presents programs
in schools, holds community conferences, has forged relationships with the
police, and offers a youth-friendly website.

Each award winner received a certificate and a cheque for $750. These awards
are possible through the generous support of Bell Canada; Toronto Culture;
Toronto Shelter, Support and Housing Administration; Toronto Parks, Forestry
and Education; and Toronto Public Health.

The Toronto Youth Cabinet was founded in 1998 and is recognized by Toronto City
Council as the official representative voice for the city's 300,000 youth.

Media Contacts:

Ryan Hayes
Toronto Youth Cabinet

Rachna Contractor
Toronto Social Development and Administration



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