It’s not too often that a young Calgarian gets to shake hands with our Premier. At the Fantasyland Hotel Ballroom on October 16th, Aminah Farzana got to do just that.
Aminah was one of 16 recipients from around the province (and one of just four in her age category) to receive a Great Kids Award for 2010. These Awards are given by the Government of Alberta to recognize youth who demonstrate compassion, determination, courage, generosity, and strength of spirit. (You can learn more about the Great Kids Awards here and watch a video of the ceremony here.)
A frequent volunteer with the Calgary Public Library, Aminah was a natural choice for this nomination and we are so pleased she was selected as a winner! She’s made quite an impact on the world around her already.
Aminah came to Canada at the age of seven. Returning to Bangladesh at age ten for a visit, Aminah was struck by the poverty there. "This experience made me thankful to be in Canada, because although my mom was from a middle class family, my dad grew up in a very poor family. My dad managed to break the cycle of poverty through education, and he inspired me to take education more seriously. Now, I'm a firm believer of 'the pen is mightier than the sword' and I hope to engage myself in a profession that will allow me to give back to the society that I am a part of, and that is part of me."
The Library has four programs supported by youth volunteers, and Aminah has volunteered with all four. She has been a technology coach for young children and seniors alike, tailoring lessons to differing ages and skills levels. A self-described "big fan of books", Aminah has shared this fondness with younger readers. More recently, she has led engaging activities for her newcomer peers, encouraging them to develop their spoken English in ESL Teen Talk.
Throughout her volunteer career, Aminah has had a hand in opening the door to new worlds of education, inspiration, and enjoyment.She has found volunteering to be beneficial for herself as well as those she helps. "The hours I put into volunteering give me a sense of fulfillment because I'm doing something productive by helping others."
Aminah's contributions don't stop there. Active in her school community, Aminah is a valued member of the Social Justice Club. Her commitment to thoughtfully living her values, sharing her views respectfully, and hearing others with the same respect, has made an impression on her teachers and fellow students. Her Social Studies teacher has this to say:
“Over the course of the last two years, Aminah has become an active citizen trying to raise awareness and arouse action in relation to her passion for ending discrimination and prejudice. In particular, she spearheaded and spent countless hours on a ‘Safe Classrooms’ campaign in which she designed, created and then posted ceiling-to-floor posters which depict the various religions, ethnicities, gender and sexual identifications represented at our high school. This visible demonstration against the marginalization of minorities got students and teachers alike talking about who makes up our communities and what it means to be a global, engaged citizen.”
Along with a sleek statue for her memento shelf, Aminah received a new IBM ThinkPad laptop, a gift certificate for her and her family to enjoy the attractions at West Edmonton Mall, and other gifts.