KING'S POINT, NL - The provincial government's Premier's Youth Council has been named one of SHAD Network's top stories of 2017.
Brooke Blanchard of King's Point is part of both programs, and proud of it.
SHAD is a month-long enrichment and entrepreneurship program offered to 900 young Canadians at 16 partner universities across the country. The program is rooted in the STEAM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
When SHAD asked its network to vote online for the top SHAD stories of 2017 the fact that six students who attended a SHAD program had appointed to Premier Dwight Ball's Youth Councilwas among voters' top choices.
The six Newfoundlanders appointed to the Youth Council in September 2017 - who also participated in a SHAD program - are Blanchard, Kaleigh Hicks of Gander, McAuley Bellows of Irishtown-Summerside, Patrick Pearson of Dunville, Daniel Stark of Deer Lake, and Radhika Verma of Stephenville. The students are among 25 youth between the ages of 16 and 24 advising government on issues of interest from a youth perspective.
Brooke, 17, is a Level III student at Valmont Academy. In addition to her SHAD experience at the University of New Brunswick in 2016, she also participated in the Davinci Engineering Enrichment Program (DEEP) at the University of Toronto in July 2017. In November 2016, she was first runner up in the Miss Achievement NL Scholarship Program.
Brooke said the SHAD program opened her mind to the importance of creativity and problem-solving.
"Those two concepts (creativity and problem-solving) are the backbone of politics," she said. "People come forward to politicians with their problems and politicians look for the best way to tackle the problems. And how problem-solving happens is what I am now learning from the Youth Council."
Brooke said she's delighted to be among the youth who now have a voice within government.
"It's important that our government, at a national and provincial level, realize that the youth today are going to carry our province forward... so, giving us this exposure now, is really important... Then, when we have a chance to be leaders, we will have a good understanding of what needs to be done," she said.
Kaleigh, 17, is a level III student at Gander Collegiate. She attended the SHAD program at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia in July 2017. The program helped her focus in on possible career choices, she said.
As she leans toward studying social work, public health or political science, she's pleased to be on the Premier's Youth Council. The group met in September 2017 for three days, and she saidyouth from various areas of the province brought up issues they'd like to see addressed.
"Surprisingly, all the groups seemed to come up with the same topics - more opportunities for youth to get involved particularly in rural communities," Kaleigh said. "Health care wait lists and education are also topics we are focusing on."
Kaleigh would also like to see more services available to youth who are struggling with mental health issues.
For more information on SHAD visit www.shad.ca.