As the Winds of Change brought together champions of healthy living in the Spud Valley, individuals and groups focused on youth in the community were especially honoured during the fourth annual Wellness Gathering.
The youth soccer associations for Pemberton and Mount Currie shared one of the Winds of Change Recognition Awards handed out during Saturday’s (Nov. 2) event at the Pemberton Community Centre, while Dean Nelson and Geoff Pross took home awards of their own.
The four recipients were selected from a pool of 40 nominees who were suggested as award winners by community members.
“I would be lying if I said it doesn’t feel good to be recognized,” said Pross, who works with at-risk young people through the Pemberton Youth Centre.
“I was definitely happy, pleased and surprised. There are a lot of incredibly good (nominees) this year, so it’s maybe even more of an honour to be chosen out of 40.”
Pross earned his award for “strengthening individuals and community resilience through the provision of health and community services.” He has spearheaded a very successful seed-to-table program through the youth centre and said he would like to establish a music program as his next goal.
Nelson, a Mount Currie band councillor and a staff member at Xit’olacw Community School, earned the award for “exemplifying community caring and responsibility.” Though he was not available to receive his award in person on Saturday, Winds of Change Steering Committee chair Sheldon Tetreault said the nominations for Nelson were “unabashedly glowing,” reading one testimonial that described him as a hero.
“The people who nominated him definitely appreciate all that he does,” said Tetreault. “He was commended for being a role model for so many of the youth in Mount Currie, for living a healthy lifestyle and modeling that (and) always working towards what’s best for youth in the community.”
Brett Wallace, who was highlighted as part of Mount Currie Youth Soccer’s nomination, was also unavailable to receive an award Saturday but Tetreault described him as “one of the driving forces” behind the club, volunteering his time year-round to coach and manage local teams.
Between the Pemberton and Mount Currie associations, hundreds of children are given an opportunity to play the game thanks to dozens of volunteers.
“We’re all very happy that we’re able to share this award with Mount Currie,“ said Anne Crowley, a board member who helped create the Pemberton association more than 20 years ago, adding that founders never expected the club to reach the size it has today. “We value the competition and sportsmanship between the two communities.”
Each of the nominees will be profiled on the Winds of Change Wellness Almanac blog over the coming weeks, while Mount Currie Chief Lucinda Phillips said an event providing further recognition is scheduled for Thursday (Nov. 7).
“Because it’s all about wellness, this event really highlights not only the talent within the communities but also what the communities offer to the general public for your health and wellbeing,” Phillips said of the Wellness Gathering’s significance. “That’s what I really like about these — what they’re able to share with us.”
Saturday’s Wellness Gathering also featured several informative speakers, a trade show with close to two-dozen local organizations running display booths, a performance by former world champion hoop dancer and Lil’wat member Alex Wells and much more, leading Tetreault to declare the event another big success.
“I think it’s great … it’s comfortable and it’s community oriented,” said Tetreault.