A teenager from Norman Wells, N.W.T., who has been working for the town for the past four years was recognized for her outstanding contributions toward improving the quality of life for members of her community.
Ava Pope, 17, won the Scott McAdam Youth Leadership Award from the NWT Parks and Recreation Association.
"It's super cool to see that after working for four years, people noticed," she said.
Pope started working for the Town of Norman Wells when she was 13, helping run day camps for young people at the Youth and Elder Centre during the summer. Since then, she's worked for the town every summer as a camp counsellor, as a helper on special events such as Canada Day, Spring Fling and youth dances, and as a labourer for public works.
She has also worked part-time during the last four school years, helping out with the Friday Night Sports program where youth from the community play sports at the school gym.
"I really like working with kids," said Pope, a Grade 12 student who hopes to become an elementary school teacher. "It's just fun. You get to see them grow up. And they're funny. It's cool seeing how they learn."
Pope said she thinks it's important for kids to have recreational opportunities, especially in small communities like hers.
"There isn't a ton to do in smaller communities like Norman Wells, so you have to take part in things. It's easy to feel isolated if you don't," she said.
Pope said COVID-19 put a stop to all the recreation programs in the town last March, as well as her plan to take her test to become a lifeguard. She said she'll do that as soon as she can.
This past summer, she cut grass, cleaned up parks, painted existing structures and did other similar jobs for the town. Since Canada Day, she's also helped out with recreational activities as the town slowly started offering them again.
Pope, who is the only youth representative on the town's recreation committee, said she would like to see more sports equipment in the community, and also some music equipment.
"I think it would be great ... because I think those are two very important things that can be great skills to learn growing up," she said. "But you can't really do it without the proper supplies, and we've never really had music supplies here. I think just more sports, music, maybe more art."