By Sue Tiffin
Michael Dillane was all smiles when arriving at the Minden Times office on May 6. The nine-year-old Grade 3 student was there to receive a certificate of recognition after being nominated for a 2021 Ontario Junior Citizen Award this year.
The award recognizes outstanding young people, age six to 17, who are performing worthwhile community service, are contributing to their communities while living with limitations, have performed acts of heroism, excellence in personal achievements, or are ‘good kids’ who are making life better for others and doing more than expected of someone their age.
Michael, a Minden resident, was nominated by his forest school teacher, Lois Foster, who was pleased to see him receive his certificate.
“Michael has been my student for two years now and is a self starter,” she wrote in his nomination. “He comes up with ideas to help others and follows through with them with his own initiative. Although he is only nine years old, he is most helpful at school, never having to be asked to help, never having to be asked to be responsible with his own personal gear/belongings, and always willing to share or give up something he is doing so that another student can participate. He always volunteers to help other students and helps the teachers too, in our unique setting at forest school with a team of three teachers on any given day and students aged four to 12. He is particularly helpful with the younger students, assisting with hats, mitts, laces, boots, locating gear, pulling them on the sled when they are tired, and opening containers at lunch time.”
Times readers will recognize Michael from previous stories about his caring nature and neighbourhood contribution. When he heard that people in the community were struggling to heat their homes during the pandemic, he created and sold bracelets with words like ‘love,’ ‘be kind,’ and ‘hope,’ on them, raising $100 for Heat Bank Haliburton County and $100 for the Minden Community Food Centre. Earlier this year he began making ‘pocket hugs,’ wooden animals that fit in the pocket, and sold them for $5 each, raising more than $350 for Walkabout Farm Therapeutic Riding Association Inc.
“Michael is pleasant, polite and fun to be with in every group with whom he has contact,” said Foster. “He is humble and his smile says everything about how much he enjoys helping others. He fairly beams when he is in the moment of helping someone.”
Foster acknowledged the support and influence of Michael’s parents, Rob and Robin, noting he “has adopted a giving attitude from the great examples he sees every day in his own home. He just has a big, big heart for serving others.”
Michael’s nomination was supported by forest school principal David Taylor, who said he had seen “countless examples” of how selfless Michael is, and teacher Judi Paul who said Michael is supportive of his classmates “in every way.”
“I believe Michael will change the world someday as he impacts people daily in a positive way,” said Foster.
The Ontario Junior Citizen Awards are co-ordinated by the Ontario Community Newspapers Association. Final recipients for the awards were announced on March 11. For more information visit www.ocna.org/JuniorCitizen.