Rotarians Rod Wainwright and Dan Bennett help kick off a new SASSY program

Youthful ‘sassiness’ celebrated in new Langley awards program

Langley youth, who excel and give back, can earn honours and cash.

To say someone has sass, well, it’s often perceived as a derogatory characteristic.

To say a Langley youth is SASSY, well… that’s taking on a whole new meaning this year, thanks to local Rotarians.

Members of the Langley Rotary Clubs want to take the sting out of “sassy” by introducing a new program – aptly called the SASSY Awards – that will spotlight Langley youth who shine.

Much like they did with the five-year run of Langley Has Talent, members of the four Rotary Clubs in Langley have come together again to introduce this new program acknowledging local youth who excel in their field of interest.

But moreover, explained SASSY co-coordinator and Rotarian Rod Wainwright, this new program will honour youth who also give back to their community in a significant way.

This program is designed to give ongoing support for the initiatives of youth in the communities who are currently making, or wanting to, make a difference, Wainwright elaborated.

“We are not just looking for youth who excel in their chosen fields, but ones who also give back in a meaningful way, and will look to the teachers and counsellors to help us identify deserving nominees,” said Wainwright, who was recently selected as the businessperson of the year by the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.

The new program is named the SASSY, which stands for Service Above Self in Students & Youth. And the name incorporates the Rotary motto of Service Above Self (that SAS of SASSY).

This program will honour youth between the ages of 15 and 21, who live or study in Langley.

Awards will be given in eight categories: community service, international service, performing arts, visual arts, overcoming adversity, sportsmanship, youth leadership, and environmental leadership.

Each year, one youth in each categories will receive a $1,000 bursary – $500 of which must be donated to a registered charity of their choice – plus a “stylized” SASSY award trophy, Wainwright said.

The inaugural awards will be presented, in a Juno-style SASSY ceremony being held Friday, May 6 at the Chief Sepass Theatre in Fort Langley.

The evening, Wainwright said, will include the awards presentations, videos highlighting each of the three finalists in all eight categories, plus live performances (possibly by some familiar faces from the past Langley Has Talent stages) that will be incorporated throughout the show.

A program with history

Rotary Clubs around the world are known for a number of their youth initiatives they’ve been running for years, including the Rotary Youth Exchange, leadership initiatives, and Rotoract.

The SASSY program is relatively new. It was originated six years ago in the neighbouring communities of Surrey and White Rock.

“The Langley clubs have had the benefit of building on the White Rock/Surrey success,” said co-chair Dan Bennett, a fellow Rotarian and local realtor.

“Our goal is to provide ongoing support for the youth of today, who will be the volunteers, involved citizens, and leaders of tomorrow.”

The program recognizes, acknowledges, and celebrates the achievements of youth who, he said, “exemplify the ideals of Rotary, as role models for other youth to say ‘I can do that, too.’ However, the piece we think will have a major impact is providing a hand up to at risk youth in the hope that they will also be tomorrow’s achievers, making a positive contribution to our communities.”

Bennett and Wainwright are reaching out to the Langley School District, as well as Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and Trinity Western University to spread word about the new program and encourage nominations.

As well, nomination forms will be available online to the public in early February, at http://sassyawardslangley.ca/.

Once shortlisted, the top three nominees in each of the eight categories will then move on to an interview process. A video will be produced about each of the finalists, with the eight winners announced at the May 6 event.

• Stay tuned to the Langley Advance for more on the SASSY Awards

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