King’s Point stu­dent ap­pointed to Premier’s Youth Coun­cil

Brooke Blan­chard pas­sion­ate about ru­ral is­sues, sus­tain­abil­ity

Nor'wester (Springdale) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANETTE DOO­LEY

KINGS POINT, NL — Brooke Blan­chard of King’s Point is one of 25 youth in this prov­ince re­cently ap­pointed to the Premier’s Youth Coun­cil.

The youth, aged 16 to 24, will ad­vise govern­ment on is­sues of in­ter­est from a youth per­spec­tive.

A Level III stu­dent at Val­mont Academy, Blan­chard is an avid vol­un­teer in her com­mu­nity and is pas­sion­ate about ru­ral sus­tain­abil­ity.

The con­fi­dent 17-year-old feels she can con­trib­ute “a good voice for ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador” to the coun­cil.

“In ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, we don’t have many youth left,” she said. “The pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing older, and we are see­ing youth leav­ing our prov­ince and not com­ing back to work.”

Mem­bers of the youth coun­cil go through a merit-based ap­point­ment process ad­min­is­tered by the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion.

“In­put from a youth per­spec­tive is an im­por­tant part of shap­ing our fu­ture,”

A for­mer co-chair of her school’s stu­dent lead­er­ship pro­gram, Blan­chard is also look­ing for­ward to shar­ing her ex­pe­ri­ences of be­ing ed­u­cated in a small, ru­ral New­found­land school. There are 10 stu­dents in her school in Level III this year.

“This year I’m do­ing four on­line cour­ses, be­cause we don’t have the teach­ers or the re­sources Brooke Blan­chard of King’s Point is one of 25 youth in this prov­ince re­cently ap­pointed to the Premier’s Youth Coun­cil

to be taught in class,” she said. “So, I’m ex­cited to talk about those things at the coun­cil.”

She is also a mem­ber of her school’s drama club, and par­tic­i­pates in the school’s sports pro­grams.

Af­ter com­plet­ing high school, she plans to earn a nurs­ing de­gree, which she hopes will take her back to ru­ral New­found­land.

“Go­ing to med­i­cal school is my ul­ti­mate goal,” she said.

In a pub­lic speak­ing com­pe­ti­tion in 2016, she spoke about the im­por­tance of govern­ment un­der­tak­ing ini­tia­tives such as road­work. Bet­ter roads would mean more tourists, she said, which would lead to eco­nomic growth.

In July, Brooke par­tic­i­pated in the Davinci En­gi­neer­ing En­rich­ment Pro­gram (DEEP) at the Univer­sity of Toronto. She was awarded a schol­ar­ship from

the Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion of NL to at­tend the pro­gram, which of­fers a

di­verse range of pre-univer­sity cour­ses to high school stu­dents who ex­cel in science and math.

In look­ing at the bio­med­i­cal as­pect of en­gi­neer­ing, Blan­chard worked with stem cells and vis­ited a heart re­search lab. She said

the pro­gram was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Each week we had a chance to choose what cour­ses we did, all sur­round­ing dif­fer­ent fields of en­gi­neer­ing,” Blan­chard said. “We got a chance to tour some very cool labs and to be ex­posed to en­gi­neer­ing and what we could do if we went on to (study) en­gi­neer­ing.”

She is also a for­mer par­tic­i­pant in the SHAD pro­gram at the Univer­sity of New Brunswick. Ev­ery July, about 900 of the coun­try’s bright­est high school stu­dents ex­pe­ri­ence SHAD’s unique ex­pe­ri­en­tial-learn­ing pro­gram. Rooted in the STEAM — science, technology, en­gi­neer­ing, the arts, and math­e­mat­ics — dis­ci­plines, the pro­gram is of­fered at select uni­ver­si­ties across the coun­try.

“I went (to SHAD) two sum­mers ago,” she said. “It’s where I pin­pointed my pas­sion for youth need­ing a voice and that I could be that voice.”

In Novem­ber 2016, Blan­chard was first run­ner-up in the Miss Achieve­ment NL Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram.

“That’s an awe­some pro­gram and I’ll def­i­nitely be back this year,” she said of the prov­ince’s largest schol­ar­ship pro­gram.

She en­cour­ages other stu­dents to get in­volved in their com­mu­nity.

“The school is the heart of this com­mu­nity,” she said. “We have fundrais­ers and con­certs at the school. We have sports tour­na­ments, and it in­volves the full com­mu­nity to put th­ese things off. So, get­ting ev­ery­one in­volved gives us a sense of com­mu­nity pride.”

For her, it’s im­por­tant those liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas of the prov­ince have a voice at govern­ment’s ta­ble. She’s ready to put for­ward her thoughts and ideas through the youth coun­cil.

“If no­body knows about us tucked away in th­ese small ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, then no one’s go­ing to want to help us,” she said.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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