Several years ago, when her uncle was diagnosed with atherosclorosis, Prashanti Baskaran thought she would try to do something about it. Only 15 at the time, Baskaran, a student at Elmwood School in Ottawa, began conducting research at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, studying connections between gingivitis and the disease which is predominant among the Indo-Asian population. Since undertaking her research, she has received numerous awards and scholarships, the most recent being inclusion in the Canada’s Top 20 under 20.
In winning the award, she will receive a $2,000 bursary, a trip to Toronto for a weeklong conference and participation in Youth in Motion’s mentoring program that pairs young awards recipients with Order of Canada recipients, including well known Canadians such as Craig Keilberger and others. Youth in Motion (YIM) is a Toronto-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to giving young people leadership and career enriching opportunities.
Akela Peoples, president and CEO of YIM announced that the mentoring program’s pairing with Order of Canada recipients was an important first for the program this year. “Important programs like Top 20 can continue making youth achievement viral,” says Peoples.
Other award recipients from private schools across Canada
Among the other recipients of the award, many are university students but there are also several private school students, alongside Ms. Baskaran. Bilaal Rajan is a student at St. Andrews’ College in Aurora, Ontario. At age eight, he raised $50,000 for victims of the Southeast Asia tsunami. Now 11, Rajan is founder of the website Hands for Help and a motivational speaker who plans to become a physician or surgeon.
Jacquelin Ng, a Grade 12 student at Vancouver’s Crofton House School, has advocated for the needy children of the world since the age of 13. Last year she hosted a gala dinner in Vancouver that raised over $78,000 for World Vision. She heads to McGill University this fall.
Baskaran likely speaks for all recipients when she says, "Being awarded not only on my academic merit, but on leadership and community involvement as well, means a great deal to me." Baskaran has already won numerous awards for her work including a Western's National Scholarship valued $22,000 and a University of Ottawa Admissions Scholarship valued at $18,000.
Suzana Szymanski, Acting Head of Elmwood School adds: "At Elmwood School, our curriculum advocates academic excellence, global citizenship, leadership, and community involvement. Encouraging students to achieve both academically and in the global community is a core value to Elmwood, so we are thrilled Ms. Baskaran is being awarded on this basis." The same could probably be said of many private schools.
Now more than ever, says YIM’s Peoples, “It is critical that we profile and share youth-positive stories. [We are] committed to showcasing young Canadians, from coast to coast and from all walks of life, who are innovators, leaders and achievers.”
Youth In Motion’s 2007 competition received about 300 applicants from all parts of Canada. 42 finalists were interviewed by judges, who then selected the 20 recipients.
You can nominate yourself or someone else. The deadline for application is December 31 of each year. Applicants must be under 20 years old on that date.
For more information, visit www.youth-in-motion.ca.