Recent West Kildonan Collegiate graduate Sydney Tuk spent much of her high school career raising awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco use.
In Grade 10, Tuk joined SWAT, or Students Working Against Tobacco, and grew to love public speaking and being a leader.
Little did she know, her involvement in SWAT and other initiatives in school and around the community would earn her recognition from the province.
In November, 18-year-old Tuk will receive the Premier’s Volunteer Service Award at Volunteer Manitoba’s 37th annual Volunteer Awards. Tuk was nominated by Tammy Harder, a teacher at West Kildonan Collegiate.
"I was driving home from a soccer practice when I got the call from my teacher. And it was just crazy. I was kind of stunned. I didn’t really know how to react because I didn’t expect to win. It was just a really good feeling," Tuk told the Times.
Alongside SWAT, Tuk was involved with Stand Together and Grow, a mental health group at school; the Christmas Cheer Board; her local church; and continues to volunteer at FC Northwest, where she grew up playing soccer.
"I’ve played with them since I was maybe nine years old. And then I developed into a coaching role where I would come and help out the younger generations coming up," she said, adding that she hopes to return to coaching after she graduates from the University of Manitoba, where she plays for the Bisons soccer team.
FC Northwest technical director Laurie McIvor said he first met Tuk eight years ago at the club’s developmental camps.
"I could already see that she had the potential to develop into a really, really good player and a leader, and that’s exactly what happened. She went to two national championships with me, she was one of the captains of the team," McIvor said. "On and off the field, she became a team leader."
"Sometimes she volunteered, and sometimes we hired her for our soccer camps, because she was really good with the young kids — she would spend extra time with the ones who were a little bit more challenged at doing the skill or just in their development process. She always spent that extra time with the kids and always made them feel welcome."
Tuk explained one of the greatest take-aways she has gained as a volunteer.
"I’ve learned that you can really touch a wide source of people.
"To me, it gives me a purpose. I feel like it’s my way of giving back and helping. I never expected to get any real recognition for it. But it’s very nice to have the recognition. And hopefully this inspires other people to kind of see that you can make a big impact even though you think you’re not."
Community Journalist - The Times
Sydney Hildebrandt is the community journalist for The Times. Email her at email@example.com