The third-annual B.C. Youth Gandhi Awards are honouring two Surrey students for their tireless community work.
Gursimran Rekhi of Sullivan Heights Secondary and Laura Johnston of Earl Marriott Secondary are two of three students picked this year for their work to better the community. Johnston was nominated by her teacher, Sylvie Horan, in September for her “openness, generosity and empathy” which she displays with her hours of volunteer work in the community.
When she heard she had been chosen for the award, Johnston said she was shocked.
“I was speechless – it’s so amazing to be recognized. I don’t do all this for awards, I just do it because I love it,” Johnston said.
The award was initiated in 2007 by Pummy Kaur, the past president of Peace and Global Educators (PAGE), and recognizes high school students who exemplify a life of compassion and service to the community.
Nominees were submitted and a panel of teachers who are on the PAGE executive sifted through and picked the recipients.
Johnston, Rekhi and Nicole Johnston, of Dr. Knox Secondary in Kelowna, will be presented their awards on Oct. 21.
The community reaction has been positive, said Kaur. By seeing youth doing positive things it helps dispel misconceptions about them, she said.
“People from outside the teachers community are absolutely astounded to find that not all students are rowdies and ruffians and that these students are doing all these amazing things. They are so surprised at the wonderful work and it really shatters the stereotype of teens,” said Kaur.
In the past, recipients have included refugees from Columbia, Afghanistan and students from China and India. Despite the varied backgrounds, Kaur said they shared one important point of view.
“They all have the common goal to make the world a better place, and not for a reward but because that’s who they really are.”
The awards will be presented Friday at 8:30 a.m. at Fraser Heights Secondary, 16060 108 Ave.