The Leaders of Tomorrow Award, sponsored by Encana, recognizes youth who make a difference in Calgary through their volunteer activities. Three individuals are recognized each year in the elementary, junior high and senior high categories for their energy, commitment and character as volunteers.
No good deed goes unnoticed. Michelle D’Souza started doing little good deeds around her school, church, and the community when she was 10 years old.
“What inspired me to start volunteering was just helping others, just doing it because you enjoy doing it, not looking for money or any benefits but for the benefit of the people instead of benefit for yourself,” said D’Souza.
Amanda Chapman, her teacher for the past 3 years, remarked, “At this age, a lot of students aren’t motivated internally or intrinsically to want to help others and do good. Michelle stands apart in that aspect.”
In school, D’Souza is part of the student government, helping to run school improvement programs. One such program she is actively involved with is PHAT (Physical Active Healthy Today), which promotes healthy and active lifestyles. She does everything from making smoothies, selling dance tickets, and fundraising.
D’Souza is also a mentor with the school’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program. She spends time with her “Little Sister” serving as her guide and role model.
“When I think of our district and our school and the idea of loving one another and fostering the gospel values of kindness, Michelle really comes to mind as a person who exhibits and fosters those kind of qualities,” said Chapman.
Outside the school grounds, she lends a hand at her church and assists at food banks. She also helps out at the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, an organization which assists new immigrants to Canada.
“I usually just help with simple things, like in the offices, filing papers. Some days, I go and help with the seniors, just read to them and talk to them and help them with computer classes and stuff,” said D’Souza.
Simple things done out of simple kindness can make a big difference in the world. D’Souza is more than simply a junior high school student; she is a ray of hope for the future – a true leader of tomorrow.