By Mallorie Rast, Kindersley Social, July 20, 2017
At first, Jillian McArthur might appear to be a usual teen, but a closer look at her life and schedule will reveal something quite different.
The 16-year old’s outstanding volunteer efforts and mentor-focused life-style has earned the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspaper Association’s Junior Citizen Award of the Year 2017.
“I was incredibly excited, yet also shocked when I heard the news,” McArthur noted during a recent interview. “I knew I was nominated for this award, but I didn’t really think that anything would come of it.”
Nominated by her aunt, McArthur was one of the four candidates chosen across Saskatchewan to receive this award. Last month, she travelled to the Government House in Regina and received the award from the Honourable Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schoeld. A $3,000 scholarship, sponsored by SaskPower, and a medal completed the recognition of the teen’s efforts.
“It was a humbling and yet proud moment,” said McArthur in a recent interview. “I didn’t volunteer, or work for people to notice me; so to receive this recognition is incredible.”
In order to be eligible for this award, nominees must have the following: a positive lifestyle; dedication to the local community and school; a strong sense of caring and responsibility; the ability to overcome life’s challenges; give inspiration to others; and be between the ages of 8 and 18.
McArthur uniquely fits the criteria, as it was her life-challenge that actually inspired her to pursue a positive life direction. While in her third grade, McArthur was made aware of a significant personal challenge—depression. “It was a very tough time for me,” recalled McArthur, “and I knew I wanted to overcome it, so I started exploring ways to do that.”
Encouraged by her parents, McArthur started volunteering at her school clubs and committees. “Seeing others with struggles helped me to put things in perspective. Helping them smile would put a smile on my own face.”
As McArthur grew, so did her opportunities. Hearing other volunteer stories of humanitarian work kindled a passion within her, so today McArthur holds positions in more than 6 committees and clubs, listed as follows:
- Co-president of the Student Leadership Council
- Member of the Interact Club
- A founding member of the Kindersley Youth Committee
- Former mayor of the Kindersley Youth Council;
- Member of the Sun West Youth consultation team
- Member of the Wellness Club at Kindersley Composite High School
- Member of PETA
Prompted by her own battle with depression, McArthur has led a program known as ‘Bounce Back Week’ at the Kindersley Composite High School. The goal of this week is to bring awareness about mental health issues in young people.
McArthur volunteers with several non-profit organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and Red Cross blood services. She also has been on a number of service trips with Me To We, visiting the countries of China and the Dominican Republic.
How does she manage it all? “My parents have played a big part in helping me to form goals and to gauge priorities,” noted McArthur. “Once I found what I really wanted to do, I made a way for it to get done.”
McArthur’s next big goal is to travel to India with the Me To We program. On August 5, she and several others, including three of her close friends, will embark on a 17-day experience of a lifetime. “I’m excited for this trip, since it is the first time I will be going to India. The fact that three of my close friends are also going makes this trip special.”
McArthur’s biggest passion is to encourage and equip others to make positive life choices. “It’s key for people to realize how important each individual is, everyone deserves a good quality of life.”
She plans to take this passion with her into post-secondary education. “I hope to get a university degree in psychology and international development, so then I could use my skills to work with a non-profit organization such as Me To We. I want people to know how to create sustainable happiness, and to have the ability to have happy healthy lives.”
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