The gala event of the season for the region’s outstanding young people, the APEX Youth Awards concluded last Wednesday evening with four well-deserving candidates as recipients of prestigious bursaries.
Mirthe Kleinjan, Kendall Enns, Kathrin Waeckerlin and Kaitlyn Mills took home top honours, while Aganetha Guenther and Natasha Kuizenga were also honoured as runners up.
All 12 nominees were recognized at the banquet for their accomplishments and community service, and the four winners were presented with $1,500 bursaries that were sponsored by four local businesses (Legacy Dodge, YPM, Grower’s Supply Ltd. and EPCOR). The two runners up receive $250 awards from the APEX Committee.
The APEX Awards were developed to recognize individuals who represent the best qualities in Taber and area youth, who unselfishly give of themselves in the service of others.
“These four young people truly exemplify the best of the best that our region’s youth have to offer,” said Coleen Campbell, an APEX organizer and publisher of The Taber Times and Vauxhall Advance, following the awards ceremony. “While we wish to honour their dedication and achievement in all that they do and support their success as they look to the future, we must be sure to remember that all of our nominees are admirable examples — be it to their friends, family, or respective communities — of outstanding youth who contribute back to making this area a towering example to others of just what hard work, perseverance, and selflessness can engender in our young people. I wish them all — each and every nominee — all the best in their future endeavours.”
Hosted at the Taber Community Centre Auditorium on April 13 and sponsored by the APEX Committee and The Taber Times, this year’s event — celebrating 15 years for the APEX Youth Awards — featured youth nominees hailing from Taber, Vauxhall and Grassy Lake, among other communities.
The event’s guest speaker was Dr. Ryan Torrie, who detailed a number of inspirational messages for the crowd and nominees, while exploring the local medical establishment’s involvement with the TANGO Foundation (Taber Assisting Nations Through Global Outreach) and their humanitarian efforts in nations like Guatemala, Peru, Fiji, and Mexico.
Taberite Mirthe Kleinjan felt truly honoured to be selected as a bursary recipient, and encouraged others to give back to their communities.
“I think this is amazing. I didn’t expect the award at all, and I think the most important thing is to give back. I think it’s amazing that people took the time to nominate us, and take all that effort to get us here, and recognize us. It’s so amazing — it’s great.”
A St. Mary’s School student, Kleinjan hopes to become a teacher, and indicated the bursary funds would be put towards that future enterprise.
“I’m planning to use it for school. I want to become a teacher. Miss Lariveriere (St. Mary’s School) inspired me so much. I just want to live life giving, and teaching, I think, is a great career for that.”
She went on to note her simple philosophy for helping others.
“I think little by little, a little makes a lot. So do the little things, and just make time, and it’s good.”
Modest to a fault, Vauxhallite Kendall Enns chose to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of her fellow nominees.
“It is an honour to be even recognized for this award, and recognized within this group of people, they’re all so amazing. It’s just an honour.”
Enns also plans to use her bursary for her post-secondary education.
“It will definitely be going towards schooling. I’ll be taking neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge, and hoping to go somewhere in the medical field.”
She encouraged others to try to give back where they can.
“Giving back is everything. Where we live, we’re so lucky with what we have, and I think that reaching out and helping as many people as you can is all you can ask for.”
Kathrin Waeckerlin also heaped praise on her fellow nominees and others she felt are deserving of recognition in the area.
“I was very excited. I know a lot of other people who I thought deserve it. So I was quite surprised when I received a nomination.”
Also eyeing a post-secondary education, Waeckerlin will be studying in southern Saskatchewan in future.
“I’m planning on continuing on at the University of Regina studying sciences, so the bursary will contribute to furthering my education, and paying for expenses.”
She pointed out that giving back always has added benefits, even if they’re not always the most tangible results.
“Just don’t be afraid to do what you can for others. There’s a lot of people out there that need things a lot more than you probably do. It’s hardly a sacrifice to contribute to your community, for what you get back from it.”
Another Vauxhallite, Kaitlyn Mills was overwhelmed by her selection as a bursary recipient.
“It really is truly an honour to be awarded this scholarship. It’s just an honour — I don’t have words.”
Also set to pursue a career as an educator, Mills will be attending the University of Lethbridge in future.
“I’m attending the University of Lethbridge in the fall, and I’m taking a combined degree Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Education. Hopefully I can become a biology teacher, and the bursary for sure will be put to good use.”
Over the past 15 years the APEX Youth Awards have recognized and celebrated the contributions of over 328 young people who have made a difference in their community. With the continued support of local business, there has been $90,000 in bursaries given to 60 APEX winners.
In 2002 the APEX Youth program started as a partnership with the Taber Rotary Club and The Taber Times, but when the original Rotary Club of Taber disbanded in 2008, concerned community leaders felt the APEX program was important enough to continue. Together, they formed the APEX Committee and along with The Taber Times have continued to organize the event.
The banquet is made possible by the generosity of the local business community. Their contributions allow all the nominees and two members of their families to attend at no cost.