Tag Archives: society

Announcing 2012 YMCA Peace Medals Recipients

Click here for 2013 YMCA Peace Medals Information

On Thursday, November 22 2012, our inspiring group of nominees were honoured at this year’s YMCA Peace Medal awards.  And the 2012 Peace Medal recipients are…

Community Group

YMCA Calgary is proud to present the Peace Medal for Community Group to Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids Society.

Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids Society works to combat increasing numbers of students attending Calgary schools without a lunch. In 2011 alone, Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids Society delivered more than 1,500 lunches each day to over 60 schools.

In addition to providing lunches, they are also supporting many community based initiatives. These include churches, community centres, schools and individuals who want to take action and support the children in their communities.

Through the work of volunteers and a commitment to helping children and the community at large, Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids Society is a deserving recipient of this year’s Community Group Peace Medal.


Community Individual

YMCA Calgary is proud to present the Peace Medal for Community Individual to Bruce Johnston.

Bruce Johnston is the principal at Simon Fraser School and has been an educator for over 30 years. Bruce has been involved in youth leadership education and was the creator of one of Calgary’s first student leadership programs in 1998. His vision for student leadership also led him to create a focused citizenship event called, The My World Conference.

The My World Conference is a one day event that brings together students from many schools in Calgary with a focus on social justice and service.  Representatives from over 20 different organizations with a positive impact on their community take part in The My World Conference.

Bruce Johnston’s key focus is to always provide what is best for students and to create opportunities for youth to find their passions and make a positive change in the world both locally and globally.

We celebrate Bruce Johnston’s achievements with this award. Congratulations!


Community Youth

Ali-Faizan Virji is the recipient of the Community Youth Peace Medal.

Ali-Faizan Virji is one of the founders of Big Tree World Network, an online network dedicated to technology. Ali has engineered a vision belt called I-SEE equipped with short-range sensors that assist in the mobility and confidence of the visually impaired.  Ali’s prolific invention has potential to influence over 200 million visually impaired around the world.

This scientific research won Ali the recognition, “Youth in Motion, Canada’s Top 20 under 20 Award”.

In his short span of life, Ali’s act of giving unconditionally has generated goodwill locally and internationally.

YMCA Calgary is proud to award Ali-Faizan Virji with this 2012 Peace Medal. We congratulate Ali for making a difference and inspiring others to do the same.



The recipient of the 2012 YMCA Calgary Peace Medal for Humanitarian goes to Doctor Salim Mawani.

Dr. Salim Mawani is a retired medical physician who has dedicated his time to help in the settlement process of new immigrant families, primarily from Afghanistan. Through his own initiative, Dr. Mawani has worked extensively with hundreds of families and has helped children and youth realize their full potential.  These youth have been given the skills and confidence to succeed now and later in life.

For the past seven years, Dr. Mawani has worked tirelessly and selflessly every day in becoming a significant part of the lives of these youth and has shown amazing dedication, spirit and commitment. The results he continues to achieve with youth and their families have seen no boundaries.

Doctor Salim Mawani embodies peace and commitment to others in his everyday life. We recognize Doctor Mawani as a humanitarian and for the tremendous impact he has made on youth and our community.


International Group

YMCA Calgary is pleased to present the YMCA Peace Medal for International Group to The Strongest Oak.

The Strongest Oak has been offering support to extraordinary youth in developing nations by providing mentorship, internships and financial support. This incredible organization helps youth achieve life-changing personal, educational and professional goals that will set them on the path to success.

The Strongest Oak believes that long term peace is possible by equipping people with the skills they need to build strong communities dedicated to finding reconciliation.  They are creating long term impact by helping youth truly bring peace to their regions.

YMCA Calgary is proud to present this award to The Strongest Oak who is a living example of peace in the midst of conflict.


International Individual

The 2012 Peace Medal for International Individual goes to Sarah Kesler.

During a trip to Kenya to work with schools and orphanages, Sarah noticed the girls’ poor living conditions were impeding on their health and ability to focus on studies. Sarah began dreaming of building a dormitory that would provide a safe and healthy environment where the girls could reach their full potential. The dream became a realization when funds were raised with the support of Sarah’s family and the community. Named after an inspiring young student Sarah met along the way, Rose Cottage began construction in 2011.

With amazing dedication and compassion, Sarah believes that anything is possible if you just believe in yourself.

Thank you, Sarah Kesler, for providing a space for children to learn and grow!


International Youth

The Peace Medal for International Youth Group goes to The Legacy Corporation at Vincent Massey Jr. High.

The Legacy Corporation first began in 2004 as a class project in an attempt for students to actively learn about the value of money and hard work. The students realized that their actions could make a big difference in communities bigger than Calgary.

The Legacy Corporation has since raised tens of thousands of dollars towards humanitarian actions in local communities and in Third World Countries. The Legacy Corporation’s believe that an individual’s community is not limited by relative restrictions like walls or even borders.

This youth group is an example that no act of kindness is too small and that ambition and compassion can have a great effect on the global community.

YMCA Calgary is proud to award The Legacy Corporation with this 2012 Peace Medal.


YMCA Staff

YMCA Calgary is pleased to present the Peace Medal in the YMCA staff category to Selena Gignac.

Selena Gignac is the International Initiatives and Outreach Director at Community YMCA where she has been significantly involved in community development and the inclusion of immigrant youth. Since recognizing her passion, Selena became a representative for the Canadian Council for Refugees as a Community Mentor and is also on the Advisory Committee for Next Up Calgary, a leadership program for emerging social and environmental activists.

Selena’s passion for youth empowerment and inclusion led her to initiate Youth Space at YMCA in the Bishop McNally School where the youth have a safe and quiet place to study and a consistent support network.

Selena’s involvement within the youth and immigrant communities makes her a deserving recipient of a YMCA Peace Medal. Congratulations Selena!


Target Could Donate $1 Million to YMCA!

As part of Target’s launch in Canada, they are donating up to $1 million to select Canadian charities – including YMCA!

We need your help please! Check out the ‘Give With Target’ Facebook app and choose ‘Active Play’ for YMCA & Alberta as your province. Just one click & Target will give YMCA $100 to help kids & youth. Takes 10 seconds & helps kids. There is no catch.

Every click on ‘Active Play’ means a whole $100.00 for YMCA Strong Kids!
Let’s help our children and youth belong, grow, thrive and lead.

The Stresses of Today’s High-Tech World

Written by Social Media Youth Volunteer, Qiwen Hu.

Have you ever felt stressed out–not just due to having too much work on your hands, but just generally stressed out?

 I’ve personally experienced that feeling quite often and I’ve realized that one of the reasons is that we all live in such a fast paced and busy society. Again, I’m not talking about just work and responsibilities, I’m talking about all our social networking, video streaming and what-have-you sources that feed us so much information daily, a lot of which is – while sometimes entertaining – completely useless. We’re always online, talking to people about completely random things. While communication is great I found that it really helps to just disconnect yourself from everything for a little while.

I love technology and the access it gives us to everything but sometimes you need to let your mind take a break from it. Sometimes it just feels extremely relaxing to go out and take a stroll, and without your phone, just a walk outside with nothing and no one to distract you. Put on some music and let the world fall away for a bit. Its spring and the weather is actually decent outside–which is rare in Calgary–so take the chance to go out for a walk and de-clutter your mind. I guarantee that you’ll feel refreshed afterwards.

The Impact of Volunteering to Our Society

Written by Social Media Youth Volunteer: Yvonne Dutallas

Today, Canada as a country is comparable to a beautiful rainbow with a variety of colors which was blended into a masterpiece. Canada has a very rich and diverse cultural heritage that contributed so much to its nation building and economic development. This unique culture was attributed from the best individual skills, experiences, beliefs and tradition brought along by different immigrants coming from different parts of the world.

However, as gold is subjected to extreme heat to extract the purest of gold, so are the different immigrants being uprooted from their comfort zone, their homeland. Coming to an unfamiliar territory, volunteering is one of the best ways for new immigrants to integrate into society. This is one of the proven channels to harness an individual’s potential that can contribute to a collective action for the betterment of the society.

To volunteer is to give back to the community without expecting anything in return. An example of this is extending help to YMCA, Food Banks, Red Cross, Drop-in Centers and other Non-profit Immigrant Serving Organization. This noble act of getting involved and helping one another has a domino effect to the community at large. It impacted the life of new immigrants as well who tried their best to understand and integrate to the community they live in which was also equally benefited by their services.

Being an immigrant myself, I had a personal experience to relate as a newcomer here in Canada. I tried my best to fit in by mingling with other people with different cultural backgrounds. Luckily, I was so blessed and thankful to have friends who helped me face all the challenges and hardships that a newcomer could ever possibly face. Their guidance and inspiration supported me immensely. I am so proud to say that I do have great mentors in my life right now. Strong-willed, dedicated, great men and women who supported and believe in me keep me up and on my feet and motivate me to pursue my dreams. Today, my mentors are my greatest inspiration to head-on all challenges in my life. Given this privilege that I enjoyed today, I promised myself to pay it forward to other incoming immigrants in the future, thus it would be a domino effect. The act of paying the goodness forward could create a tremendous impact to society.