The Leaders of Tomorrow Award 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. This award is sponsored by Encana Corporation to honour young people and their commitment to community.
How does one describe Cassidy Robertson? 12th grader, volunteer, environmentalist, budding social entrepreneur, all of these words fit, but now we can add Leaders of Tomorrow award winner to that list.
Robertson’s passion for serving her community is only surpassed by her desire to help her fellow students to find what they are passionate about.
“My definition of leadership is empowering others to do something they care about, so every day I try and be the face of my own definition,” says Robertson. “I hope that I still am empowering others to do what they’re most passionate about.”
Robertson found her passion for volunteering at the age of 10 when her parents encouraged her to volunteer with the family.
“It really started when my parents told me that we needed to volunteer, I didn’t really know what it [volunteering] was, mom told me to volunteer so I did,” Robertson remembers, thinking back 7 years. After the nudge to get involved by her parents, Robertson caught the volunteering bug and is now a self-confessed volunteer junkie.
“Volunteering is really important to me because it’s a way for me to learn new things, but also it’s a way where I can help somebody else out. I’m a student so I can’t really help people out financially, but I can give my time and I realize that that’s just as valuable,” says Robertson.
Robertson’s enthusiasm for getting involved is infectious. Her drive to get students involved at her school, Lord Beaverbrook High School, saw her create her own organization – Club 120.
Club 120 is a student-led initiative to make 120 improvements to their surroundings, with the students choosing initiatives that are the most important to them. Club 120’s first order of business was starting “Fresh Face Fridays.” Fresh Face Fridays was created so that the girls at Beaverbrook could be free to go without putting on makeup, as Robertson described it, so that they could show that they are just as beautiful without makeup and to “quit objectifying themselves with cosmetics.”
With 13 initiatives like Fresh Face Fridays and recycling bins in the hallways under Club 120’s belt Robertson is confident that the club will continue without her when she goes off to University. Her ultimate goal is to see Club 120 expand to all schools in Calgary and eventually Canada.
Robertson’s passion and drive to make the world a better place was noticed immediately by Kristin Marquardt, chair of the Sierra Club Chinook. Marquardt first met Robertson when she was applying for a summer student position with the Sierra Club.
“She was the youngest of all our applicants, but she just blew us away. Her energy was just tangible in the room, she was just so energetic,” recalls Marquardt. “We were all a little hesitant because she was still in high school and she has lots of other commitments but [hiring her] was the best decision we could have made.”
Anything that Marquardt or the others threw at Robertson she tackled head-on. If Robertson didn’t know how to do something she went to the library and taught herself. She wrote both the strategic plan and the communications plan for the Sierra Club Chinook.
“What stands out for me about Cassidy is her positive nature, she’s very excited about everything she’s doing, and she puts her whole self into it. She has a lot of commitments with Club 120, with Sierra club, with the Mayor’s youth council, but she gives 100% in all of them,” says Marquardt.
That passion and drive is what makes Robertson’s future ambitions make absolute sense. After she finishes University, Robertson aspires to be a “social entrepreneur.”
But just what is a social entrepreneur? Robertson explains it as someone who uses socially responsible business practices in areas such as the environment and labour practices; they also have to be transparent about where their profits are going.
There is no doubt that this year’s Leaders of Tomorrow award recipient will be one of tomorrow’s leaders.
See Cassidy at work below.