Improving the lives of people is what drives Zoe Tavenor, a Grade 12 student at Georgetown District High School (GDHS). Her recent humanitarian trip to Africa and her leadership class at school has helped solidify her desire to make the world a better place, as she works to further her studies to fulfil this goal.
Her selflessness caught the attention of the Ontario Community Newspaper Association (OCNA). Tavenor is being recognized for her volunteer efforts after receiving a nomination for an Ontario Junior Citizen Award for 2017. Through her education and community involvement, the Georgetown youth is learning the importance of helping others while preparing for her post-secondary education.
“It feels so great to help others and to give back,” says Tavenor. “I do this volunteer work in hopes that I can help change lives. However, what usually happens is my life is the one that is changed.”
Each year, the OCNA leads a nomination process to acknowledge youth who have demonstrated inspiring levels of community involvement.
Tavenor recently travelled to Africa to volunteer with an HIV Task Force where she visited women and children who have contracted aids.
“This was a very difficult thing to be involved in, however, very rewarding to see the happiness we brought to these individuals who were suffering,” says Tavenor.
During her time in Africa, the Georgetown student volunteered at bible, music and sports camps. She also delivered food, toys and stickers to young children.
Tavenor says GDHS’s Leadership program has been influential in her volunteering choices. The program encourages students to volunteer and become involved in the community to develop leadership skills. In her community, Tavenor volunteers with special education students, coaches sports teams and works with a Grade 9 female physical education class at GDHS.
“My leadership class at GDHS helped me to be a stronger leader,” Tavenor says.
Hoping to pursue a career as a nurse, Tavenor opted to do a co-op while enrolled at GDHS and secured a placement at a local health centre. Through the Halton District School Board’s Specialist High Skills Major Program (SHSM), where students gain practical experience in a chosen field, she was able to receive First Aid training and visit McMaster University to learn first-hand about the school’s nursing program.
“This helped me prepare for post-secondary education as it opened my eyes and helped confirm this is what I want to do,” says Tavenor.
Following her passion to help others, Tavenor plans to travel to Guatemala this summer to embark on another volunteer initiative.
“It is so important to give back and spread happiness as it goes a long way,” says Tavenor.