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Activist student humanitarians to receive awards

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For curmudgeons who mutter the kids today are up to no good, here are kids who are up to good: building an oversea school, helping victims of war, coming to the aid of typhoon-devastated victims and helping people outside their own doors.

The 17th annual Manitoba Teachers Society Young Humanitarian Awards next Wednesday honour eight public school students from four school divisions in Morris, Dominion City and Winnipeg.

"The Young Humanitarian Awards just might be the best hour of our year," said MTS president Paul Olson.

With a YouTube video and an ambitious plan to build a school in a developing country, Morris School’s Avery Skog launched his Brick by Brick campaign.

The Grade 4 student’s goal? To sell 500 paper bricks at $20 each. "It’s just not fair that so many kids can’t go to school," Avery said. Avery bought the first two bricks with his own money, then partnered with another school group to launch a fundraiser called A Week of Change. Recently, Avery reached his goal of $10,000.

Clare Dodds excels at nurturing and connecting. Whether it’s packing school kits for war-affected kids in Syria or serving meals at Siloam Mission, the Grade 7 student at École River Heights School genuinely enjoys school and community service.

The MTS said Clare is an integral part of the Butterfly Effect Club at her school and is deeply aware of the effects of poverty, marginalization and how kids are affected by world crises.

Loizza Aquino has an educated heart and some mad digital skills. As a Grade 9 student at Henry G. Izatt Middle School in Whyte Ridge, she spearheaded a $4,000 fundraising effort for a school build in Kenya, worked to raise funds for 2010 and 2013 victims of typhoons in the Philippines and distributed Day of Pink T-shirts to Grade 4 students as a welcome to her middle school.

Loizza films and posts videos encouraging young people to talk about issues they face — and she encourages everyone to speak up for what’s right. A promoter of good digital citizenship, Loizza was granted a meeting with Education Minister James Allum to propose a student advocacy group on technology use in Manitoba schools.

Raelee Fehr is a humble soon-to-be graduate of Roseau Valley School who’s passionate about mental health.

"Students with mental-health issues need safe spaces," she said, "places where they can get resources and not be judged."

Raelee co-ordinated the school’s Out of the Blue mental-health campaign for the last two years. She’s also done humanitarian work in Ecuador, raising money herself through an after-school position as a cashier, odd jobs and various fundraisers. This August, Raelee heads to Nicaragua.

Emotions are close to the surface when young Paige Andrusko, Kyle Mingotti, Hope Croatto and Juliana Marucci talk about their motivations for raising money for cancer research. They don’t want anyone to get cancer. Grade 4 students at Beaumont School in Charleswood, Team Paige and Friends, threw themselves into an awesome Movember campaign, making and selling colourful mustaches at lunch and raising $1,757.

Each MTS Young Humanitarian Award comes with a YHA medal, framed certificate and a monetary prize. For complete details on the awards, go to


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