Today I had the privilege of attending the Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (Y.E.S) awards ceremony at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre where ten exceptionally talented youth in grades 6 to 10 were honoured for their achievements.
As noted in the nomination announcement, “The goal of the awards is to emphasize the positive achievements of Oak Bay’s young people by recognizing those who have distinguished themselves in such areas as volunteerism, arts, citizenship, academics, athletics and/or who have overcome obstacles to achieve their goals.”
Congratulations to this year’s award winners: Candra Barber, Owen Chow, Cam Henderson, Owen Jaques, Jessica Maitland, Isabella McNamee, Jean Newell, Oleg Saldyga, Leah Smith and Ruby Tang.
I had the pleasure of presenting the award to Jean Newell. Below is the text of my speech.
Fourteen year-old Jean Newell won the Karate Canada Nationals in Team Kata in Toronto last year, and then went on to win silver in the Junior Pan Am Karate Tournament in Medellin, Columbia. To put this into perspective, for those of us who don’t know the competition well, this is the first time Canada has placed in the finals in the 24 year history of that tournament, putting Canada on the map!
Jean qualified to become a National Karate Referee, which breaks with tradition, as normally you have to be at least 19 to hold this position. As a result, this March Jean was asked to referee at the North American Cup for Karate at the Richmond Oval. In 2012, Jean won double silver in the annual US Open in Kumite (sparring), as well as in Kata in Las Vegas, the largest karate tournament in the world.
In addition to his outstanding Karate skills, Jean is also an exceptional soccer player. He does much of his Karate competing with his older brother Geoffrey, and these inseparable boys are very committed to their sport and involved in the Oak Bay Community. Jean is a straight-A student who takes his studies very seriously.
As we can see from all his accomplishments, Jean gives everything he undertakes his all.
Ladies and gentlemen – please help me in congratulating Jean Newell as a recipient of a 2014 YES Award.
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