‘Youth-friendly’ business owners recognized

Earlier this month, a group of adult-nominated young Sylvan Lake residents were recognized for their volunteer efforts in the community.

Members of the Youth Advisory Council pose with recipients of the Youth Friendly Business Awards at the Community Centre last Wednesday. Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre

Members of the Youth Advisory Council pose with recipients of the Youth Friendly Business Awards at the Community Centre last Wednesday. Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre

Earlier this month, a group of adult-nominated young Sylvan Lake residents were recognized for their volunteer efforts in the community at the Leaders of Tomorrow Awards.

And last Wednesday, the tables were turned at the Youth Friendly Business Awards ceremony. Instead of adults recognizing the youth in the community, about 125 young Sylvan Lakers recognized local businesses for being ‘youth friendly.’

The Youth Advisory Council took all the nominees into consideration, but had to narrow the final recipients down to four businesses.

Plaques were awarded in the categories of Most Youth Friendly Business, Youth Friendly Employer, Building Blocks and Community Philanthropy.

Incline Industries Skate and BMX Park, Sylvan Lake Municipal Library, Canadian Tire and ATB Financial were nominees for the Building Blocks award, with ATB Financial receiving the accolade.

ATB Financial was recognized because the staff step beyond the bank machine and attend sports and youth events in the community. The staff work to promote positiveness by showing their support in the community.

The bank’s branch manager Nancy Numan was thrilled to receive the recognition and held the plaque with pride. She said it felt “awesome” to have won the award.

“We have such a great community of youth and co-ordinators,” Numan said. “This town really believes in the youth, and it’s awesome.”

The businesses in the running for the Community Philanthropy award included Canadian Tire, McDonald’s, Walmart, ATB Financial and Panago.

Canadian Tire was the final recipient, and was recognized for its Jumpstart program, which helps provide funding for children to play sports.

Canadian Tire store manager Elizabeth Lewis was ecstatic to receive the award. She said about half of the staff employed at Canadian Tire are youth.

“It feels excellent to receive this award,” Lewis said. “We have a lot of youth that work for us. To be recognized means a lot. It’s important to be known in the community.”

Some of the businesses that were nominated for the Most Youth Friendly Business award included Railside Bowling and Pizza Hut, Incline Industries Skate and BMX Park, Subway, Taco Time and Mac’s. The owners of Railside Bowling and Pizza Hut won the final recognition.

Their owner Daud Ahmed received many compliments from youth who spend their time socializing with friends and bowling.

Ahmed received compliments on how his business caters to all ages, with activities such as throwing birthday parties for the youth. It was also noted how the atmosphere his business provides allows children to be themselves.

Ahmed was very proud to receive the award and said he feels good to be a winner.

As owner, Ahmed said his goal has always been to provide a safe and fun atmosphere for youth in the community.

“We truly believe that it takes a village to raise a child,” Ahmed said. “We wanted to create a place where anybody can come and have fun. It feels good to be recognized for that.”

The business nominees for the Youth Friendly Employer award included Nomads, No Frills, Canadian Tire, Dairy Queen, Sobeys and Boston Pizza.

Nomads won the recognition, but did not attend the ceremony. Nomads received recognition for providing youth with employment and training, resulting in the youth having the opportunity to mature and learn outside of school.