Jina Yeom is one of the candidates in the International Service category for this year’s SASSY Awards. Today (Saturday, April 8) was judging day, where the finalists in each of seven categories will be selected. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance)

SASSY AWARDS: Judges select Langley’s top seven youth

Langley Rotary Clubs’ second annual youth service awards are being handed out later this month.

Out of 43 young people in Langley who were nominated for the second annual SASSY Awards, 21 of them were invited to James Hills Elementary today (Saturday) for the final selection process.

The calibre of the young people who were nominated in each of the cateogries is “incredibly impressive,” said Rod Wainwright, co-chair of the SASSY committee.

He and co-chair Dan Bennett, a fellow Rotarian, brought the concept of the SASSY (Service Above Self Student and Youth) recognition program to Langley for the first time last year.

SASSY is about offering special recognition for young leaders in the community who are between the ages of 15 and 21 years old and are living or studying in Langley. But, SASSY is also about bringing awareness to the youth homelessness issue in Langley, Wainwright said. And he said the success of the first year’s program has been apparent.

“We brought SASSY to Langley to recognize the youth that out there who are accomplishing on their own right, but also giving back to the community,” Bennett elaborated.

Equally impressed with the list of 2017 candidates, he said the secret selection of the winners Saturday was going to be challenging. They had panels of judges going in seven different rooms in the school, each spending about 30 minutes with the potential winners to find out more about them and their quest to be recognized.

“These are the next generation of volunteers in the community, and the greatness in the community is really measured by its volunteers. And I think Langley is very safe and in very good hands in the future with the youth who are coming forward,” Bennett said.

Fellow Rotarian and event coordinator Andria McAulay interviewed each of the candidates Saturday, for a series of videos that will be used during the awards night, and called it an “incredible experience.”

“With me there with them, I could draw a bit more details and ask some further questions to try to get more of a sense of who they are,” McAulay explained, noting video for each of the finalists will be shown.

She’s “revved up” for the big night, she said.

“It really was amazing to meet such incredible youth with vision and drive and passion to an almost immeasurable extent. Was a pretty inspiring day on Saturday. I can’t wait for the 27th to be here!”

Each Award recipient receives a $1,000 bursary, $500 to donate to a registered charity of their choice, plus stylized SASSY Award trophy. The three finalists in each category won’t know the recipient until their category is presented on stage.

This year’s awards will be presented during a Juno-style awards presentation at the Chief Sepass Theatre (9096 Trattle St.) in Fort Langley on Friday, April 27 at 7 p.m.

Six young Langleyites, all girls, were honoured last year for their contributions as future leaders of this community: Hailey Spearn in the arts & culture category; Alix Way in the sports leadership; Kaya Pook in the overcoming adversity category; Truepayna Moo in the international services; Roxanne Kondos for youth leadership; and Alisha Sidhu for community service.

For more information, visit: sassyawardslangley.ca