The Spark Awards returned Friday night to honour and celebrate the youth in the community after a brief hiatus.
The Spark Awards, formally known as the Leaders of Tomorrow Awards, were cancelled in 2020 as the pandemic hit Alberta and the first wave of lockdowns were in full force.
Krista Carlson, FCSS Youth Services supervisor, said a year ago they weren’t sure how to hold something like the awards virtually.
“We have learned a lot in the last year, and we are still learning new ways to connect with a wide audience in the virtual sphere,” Carlson said.
The hope was to hold the event in person, on a smaller scale than usual. Normally, the awards are held at the Wellness & Community Connections Centre with upwards of 300 people.
However, given the current public health regulations, the awards had to shift to a virtual event.
While Carlson said it was disappointing not to have all the finalists together for the event, holding the awards virtually did lead to one of her favourite parts of the show: the surprise.
Carlson and the youth services team surprised the winners of each category in one day.
“We scared them definitely, with the confetti and noise, but they were all so excited,” Carlson said.
“In most cases the parents of the winners were there to witness the surprise, and to see the pride on their faces was pretty amazing as well.”
Carlson and her team contacted the parents of each winner a head of time, to arrange a time to surprise them.
Premiering on May 14, the Spark Awards have been viewed be a number of people, including teachers who have shown it to their class.
“I think that is one of the positives that has come out of this being online, we are able to reach more people,” said Carlson.
“The awards are normally invite only, and while we fill the gym at the community centre with around 300 people, it is nice to see this is reaching more.”
The pre-taped awards video also a words of encouragement and gratitude from members of the community including the mayor and members of council, MP Blaine Calkins, staff from schools, local volunteers, and more.
The Spark Awards shows the youth of Sylvan Lake that they are seen and appreciated, especially during the ongoing pandemic.
“There is still a lot of pride and excellence in our community, especially in our youth. They are still volunteering and greatly involved in our community.”
Carlson added it is important to recognize that the youth of Sylvan Lake are also going through a confusing and difficult time during the ongoing pandemic.
“With sports and events being cancelled, the shuffling to and from online learning, it is difficult for them too, so it’s important that we recognize that and show we appreciate the work they do here.”
Having moved to an online format, Carlson says the FCSS Youth Services will be looking at more ways they can put local youth in the spotlight.
The winners from the 2021 Spark Awards are:
Arts and Culture Award: Macy Lyon
Athletic Ambassador Award: Carson McCulloch
Service and Caring Award: Megan Routhier
Inspiration Award: Lauryn Dumont
Spark Champion Award: Tracey Lynn and Don Rattray