Sixteen Great Kids Awards were handed out around Alberta, and one was to 18-year-old Dylan Symmonds of Medicine Hat. MLA Drew Barnes presented the award outside his constituency office on Tuesday.
Barnes said qualities required for the award are showing leadership skills, volunteering and being a key member of the community, and is pleased Dylan is leading the way in Medicine Hat by receiving the 2022 award. Dylan possesses all these qualities and more, as mom, Celina Symmonds said, "he's just the kindest guy you could ever meet."
Dylan has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder, but he doesn't let it hold him back. "For me it really doesn't matter," commented Dylan, "We are still just doing the same things. Sometimes I struggle a bit, but I still do the things I love to do."
One of those things is working part-time at Six One Six Entertainment, a job he loves and has held for almost two years.
"It's fun, the staff are kind, and it is an amazing place to go," said Dylan. He's thinking about another job and currently exploring what is available to see if anything feels right for him. Working is his priority now, and he will consider post-secondary education when he feels he is fully ready.
His mother, Celina, said she was "really proud of Dylan. He has worked so hard to achieve what he has, and I think graduating and having the opportunity to give back to the community has been so important to him."
While Dylan volunteered at the food bank and other organizations in the community, most of it was within the school by mentoring his friends and peers.
"He also participates in Special Olympics and Adaptive Sports, and he's been really involved in the community," said Celina.
Dylan graduated from Crescent Heights High School in June and is glad to be moving forward.
"We've been around the pandemic for two or three years. It was really tough on some schools. We had to do online, and some people weren't used to that. It was good I finally achieved the hardest things anybody could during the pandemic and got out of school."
To learn more about the Great Kids Award, phone the Drew Barnes office at 403-528-2191.
SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News