EXCEPTIONAL YOUTH REWARDED
Rafael Brusilow

Metro Canada - Vancouver
June 2 2008
Canada

Proving that giving to others makes you richer, 20 of Canada's
brightest volunteers are getting a free university education as reward
for their efforts in helping to make their own communities better.

The 20 high school students from across Canada were each chosen
to receive a TD Canada Trust Scholarship for Community Leadership,
valued at up to $60,000 and covering four years of tuition, spending
money and offers of summer employment with TD Canada Trust.

Each student demonstrated initiative, ingenuity and perseverance in
doing something that benefited his or her own community, qualities
the program's executive director, Jane Thompson, says cut across all
of Canada's cultural, economic and political barriers.

"Our winners are from the full range of Canadian society, coast to
coast, all different income levels and all sorts of issues in our
community. It's an incredible experience just to spend time with
these amazing young people," Thompson said.

Diana Varvarici, 18, from Newtonbrook Secondary School in Toronto was
honoured for her work creating a volunteer translation service for new
immigrants to Canada as well as her efforts running cultural events in
her community, which raised money for charity. Varvarici, multilingual
herself -- along with English she speaks Russian, Armenian and French
-- got the idea for a volunteer translation service upon seeing how
hard life can be for new immigrants who don't speak English or French.

"When they come here, they don't necessarily understand all of the
things they need to do in this country because it's so difficult to
adapt to a new place," she said.

Varvarici's 65 student volunteers, all aged 14-22, offer help to
immigrants in 15 different languages as well as advice and assistance
in dealing with OHIP, social insurance, legal documents and even
transit travel routes.

Seventeen-year-old Kayode Fatoba received the award for creating a
soccer program to give kids in his community -- Toronto's troubled Jane
and Finch neighbourhood -- something constructive and empowering to do
in their free time. The soccer program started two years ago with the
only funding coming from a local hot dog vendor who paid for uniforms
and gave the kids free hot dogs after games. Today the program boasts
three teams with roughly 15 players each and is growing. Without the
scholarship award, Fatoba would never have gotten a chance to go to
university -- now he plans to attend Simon Fraser University to study
Health Sciences in September.

"The most rewarding part of the program is that a lot of people look
up to me, and that's something you can't buy. When a kid looks up to
you, that's priceless," Fatoba said.

Jane Wu, 17, from Calgary created and organized the "Beauty and
Brains" conference to promote stronger career aspirations among young
women. The conference was so successful, it now has the funding
to continue for the next three-to-five years and Wu plans to take
it nationwide.

"What we really want to do is to expose women to the vast horizons
they have in front of them. It's absolutely amazing to see how a
small idea can snowball into something so big," Wu said.

Her advice? Try getting engaged in your own community.

"When you're being selfless you learn so much about yourself and
connect so well to your community. Just do it once and I promise
you'll be hooked," she said.

Cassandra Fong, 18, from Vancouver did something sure to amaze viewers
of crime dramas like CSI and Law & Order -- she created a lie detector
test which is 100-per-cent accurate, compared to about 90-per-cent
accuracy for a traditional test.

The secret is that instead of measuring shifts in perspiration and
heart rate like a normal test, Fong's test measures chaotic shifts in
stomach frequencies. She got the idea for the technique when learning
about how the stomach works in her biology class.

Fong's invention has garnered interest from police services and
university researchers and Fong has already started the patent process.

As for her friends, Fong jokes, "They definitely won't be lying to
me now!"

Winners of the award program, started 13 years ago, were chosen from a
pool of 4200 kids across Canada by a panel of judges, which included
Canadian Senators, business and educational professionals and past
award recipients.