Shuswap Youth Launch team members Cadyn Moraice, Abbi Paetsch and Mikayla Wilkinson receive a cheque for $10,000 from Salmon Arm and Shuswap Rotary Club members for the upcoming Shuswap Youth Launch event. (Contributed)

Shuswap Youth Launch team members Cadyn Moraice, Abbi Paetsch and Mikayla Wilkinson receive a cheque for $10,000 from Salmon Arm and Shuswap Rotary Club members for the upcoming Shuswap Youth Launch event. (Contributed)

Shuswap Youth Launch returns with slate of inspirational speakers

Rotary clubs give $10,000 towards hybrid event organized by youth for youth

An event created by and for Shuswap youth is returning in April thanks to efforts of student organizers and community support.

The second edition of Shuswap Youth Launch is scheduled to take place on April 28. Once again the event will feature a slate of guest speakers, only this time around Shuswap Youth Launch will be a hybrid event conducted both online via Zoom and live at the Salmar Classic Theatre.

Organizing the event is The Shuswap Youth Launch team, chaired by Mikayla Wilkinson and fellow Grade 11 Salmon Arm Secondary Sullivan students Abbi Paetsch and Cadyn Moraice. The three have worked hard to secure event sponsors and speakers while working out all the details outside of their school day.

Guest speakers this year include Olympians Sarah Wells and Avalon Wasteneys, Simpcw First Nation Two-Spirit model and makeup artist Joey Roo, and entrepreneur and Haven Sleep Products founder Scott Amis.

Wells’ Olympic debut was the 400-metre hurdle event at the 2012 Games in London, which came despite an injury that sidelined her for months the year before. Wells coaches people to pursue their goals through the Believe Initiative, an organization founded on a message of resilience. Recently, she could be seen pushing her limits on the latest season of the Amazing Race Canada.

Wasteneys was on Team Canada’s Women’s Eight rowing team that captured gold in the 2020 Games in Tokyo. Before discovering rowing, Wasteneys was a competitive cross-country skier and a medallist at the junior national championships in 2014. Avalon will share how she reached her journey of finding trust in herself and how she came to realize what good role models are and where to look for them.

Roo’s objective is to inspire LGBTQ+ and Indigenous youth through art and expression. Roo has an inspiring story of self-acceptance and finding passion through dark times while bringing to light the importance of asking for help and finding sustainable influences.

Amis is a business mentor and entrepreneur. He joins Shuswap Youth Launch to help youth better understand what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

“From all of our experiences at leadership conferences, you go and everyone talks about the same topic of inspiration, of leadership and youth empowerment,” explained Mikayla. “That’s where we wanted to make Shuswap Youth Launch a little bit different. We wanted to bring the topics that we wished we got to learn about when we were that age… Which is where we see Joey, who is coming to talk about how he fell into drugs but then found ways to help pull out of that and grow from that. That’s where we bring in Avalon, who is going to talk about how sometimes the people you look up to are not so great, and how to recognize that. That’s why we’re bringing in Scott, who is going to talk about entrepreneurship. When I was in Grade 7 I would have loved to have heard from Scott…

“I think bringing those different, unique topics that maybe adults don’t necessarily see as beneficial is just something that needs to be done.”

In its first year, Shuswap Youth Launch was funded by an RBC Future Launch grant, with mentorship provided by the Salmon Arm Rotary Club. This year, the Rotary clubs of Salmon Arm and Shuswap donated $10,000 towards the event. Other sponsors include RBC, the Starbucks Foundation, Salmon Arm Folk Music Society, Shuswap Orthodontics, Grant Thornton and Toliver Design.

Anyone is welcome to join the event via Zoom. Tickets for the in-person portion at the Classic are being held especially for Shuswap area youth.

Read more: Shuswap Youth Launch team over the moon with success of interactive event

Read more: Uplifting appeal of upcoming Shuswap Youth Launch event attracts Olds College audience
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