Giving back to the community is something that comes natural to Regan Barney.
At the age of ten, Barney began volunteering in the community when she would act as scorekeeper for the local recreation committee during the Barton Hicks Memorial Hockey Tournament.
“My Grandmother is really big on volunteering and giving back to the community so she has always definitely encouraged me with that kind of stuff,” Barney told The Labradorian on May 16.
At this years 2012 UROCK awards gala in St. Johns, the 15-year-old Port Hope Simpson youth was recognized for her numerous efforts she has contributed to her school and community.
“It was a really overwhelming feeling,” Regan told the Labradorian upon receiving the award. “I am so grateful.”
Volunteering is something that keeps Barney busy in the community and throughout the year. She said besides going to school, working, playing sports and hanging out with friends much of her time has been dedicated to helping out in the community.
She’s volunteered on the town’s recreation committee, Bayside Academy student council as a youth representative on the NunatuKavut’s Full Circle advisory Committee, which councils youth in preventing the use of illicit drugs, they do 5 and 10 km Fun Runs, the kids eat smart breakfast program, Junior Rangers, and has recently partnered with a friend to couch youth basketball program.
Last year she initiated an event in the community titled “Shave for the Brave” in which participants signed up to donate 10 inches of hair to the ‘Locks of Love’ foundation which creates the hair into wigs for cancer patients undergoing chemo-therapy.
“For Shave for the Brave in exchange for shaving your head or donating your hair you could go around and collect pledges and raise money. The money goes towards a program called Young Adult Cancer Canada- which helps young adults cope with what they’ve been through.”
Ms. Barney says no one really volunteers to receive awards but to receive recognition is something she is thankful for. “It makes you feel really good about the work you do.”
Getting the opportunity to see the world and other cultures has also been something on Barney’s to do list.
Last year she received a scholarship from the province to partake in the Students on Ice program in which selected youth traveled to Greenland, Iceland, and Nunatsiavut to learn about the arctic, sustainability and climate change, as well as learn how youth can make a difference.
“It was a really great ‘eye opener’ trip,” Ms. Barney.
She says youth who volunteer can not only help out their community but can also help you figure out what you want to do in the future.
“Even if not it gives you something to do in your free time-you’ve found something you’ve enjoyed and something you can spend your time on,” added Ms. Barney.
Being more active in your community is simple she says, “For a student, just go to your school and look at everything that’s being done; is there anything you can help out with? When it comes to your community there shouldn’t really be any trouble finding volunteer work.”
Initiating events and programs is something Ms. Barney also encourages youth who are eager to start something in their communities that aren’t currently in place. “All of that stuff pays back definitely,” she said.
“It was really, really great to know that there are other young people out there who are making a difference in their community,” Ms. Barney said of the other UROCK youth Volunteer recipients.
Next summer, Ms. Barney says she is keeping her fingers crossed (and with dad’s approval), for the possibility of a volunteer trip to Thailand. “There’s a few programs I have been looking at online and they have some youth ones as well so I am pretty excited,” she says.
The two programs that caught the eye of Ms. Barney is a cross coverage tour of Thailand in which youth visit various areas and assist local farmers, working with children in schools, and building projects with Monks. The other is a sports program in which she could get the opportunity to coach sports with children.
The skies the limit for Ms. Barney, she says, while she was almost certain she wanted to go into Law after she graduates, her trip to the north opened up a whole new book of possibilities. “Marine biology also seems like a pretty interesting field so I am definitely considering my options for the next couple years for sure,” she added.