We have all been thrust into a new environment. COVID-19 has made new terms like physical distancing and self-isolation common, and made many of us feel anxious about our health. But even as young people face unprecedented difficulties and uncharted paths, they are finding purpose in this moment of crisis, and inspiring others to hope and act.

Through the confusion, stress and worry that the pandemic has caused, local youth are continuing to demonstrate leadership in the community. Many are on the front lines in customer service roles, while others are stepping up to lead, volunteer or inspire positive change.

Meet three young Cochranites demonstrating ways we can all stick together, even when we’re staying apart.

Ethan M. is a grade 12 student at St. Timothy High School who also works as a cashier at Save-On-Foods. Ethan is one of a number of youth in the local grocery stores who are working hard stocking shelves, cleaning and sanitizing high-traffic areas and serving customers.

When asked how it feels to be on the front lines as an essential services worker, he said it’s a very strange and new experience.

“I feel like I’ve fast forwarded into a trial run of adulthood, working life and independence,” he explained. “My days look a lot different. Instead of going to school in the morning, I now work five days a week, help open the store for seniors’ shopping hour at 7am and fit schoolwork in at night.”

“I love keeping busy and doing my part to help the community in this time of uncertainty.”

Joroel C. has been a member of the Cochrane Youth Council for three years. She has taken a leadership role for the 2019/2020 term by becoming the chair.

Nola Hume, Youth & Volunteer Program Coordinator at The Club says Joroel has been a committed and dedicated leader this past year.

“She has taken on many roles including recruitment; creating agendas; running meetings efficiently; engaging Town of Cochrane staff, Mayor and Council; and organizing sub-committees for projects,” she added. “Joroel has always conducted herself in a professional and mature manner when dealing with members of the Youth Council, Boys and Girls Club staff, and Mayor and Council.”

“Last year, Joroel was one of the presenters at the Town’s Leaders of Tomorrow awards and served as a member of the planning committee. All of these are amazing accomplishments at age 15!”

Jade J., founder of the Lives with Less Plastic movement, is working to change Cochrane’s footprint, one single-use piece of plastic at a time.

The grade 9 student has been advocating for a ban on single-use plastic bags from stores and straws in sit-down restaurants in Cochrane. Her goal is to inform the community of the impact disposal plastic products have on the environment and empower residents to take simple steps to reduce their consumption and environmental footprint for a sustainable future.

Dawn-Marie Meggison Cinnamon, learning assistant at Ecole Elizabeth Barrett Elementary school, nominated Jade for recognition as part of the Town’s Youth ROCS (Recognized for Outstanding Community Spirit) awards this week for her ongoing efforts.

“Her work within our community to reduce plastics is outstanding,” said Dawn. “I love following the useful tips on her Facebook page. She is remarkable.”

We will get through this crisis, and when we do, history will show how the world’s young people — just like these ones in Cochrane — helped to bridge the world from fear to hope and from confusion to understanding.

The Town of Cochrane supports National Youth Week May 1-7, 2020 which is dedicated to the celebration of youth. It is a celebration of youth and their active participation in the community, through recreation, sport, civic engagement, art, volunteerism and leadership. Every day youth are involved in meaningful activities and National Youth week is about honouring their involvement.

Thank you to all the youth contributing to this great community.

If you would like to recognize a local youth for their volunteer and leadership contributions, visit facebook.com/CochraneProgramsActivitiesOpportunities and comment on the daily Youth ROCS call for nominations.

Ethan M. working at Save on Foods.
Trisha T. smiles under her face mask while serving drive thru customers at A&W.
Callum C. and Justice H. take a short break from sanitizing shelves at Bulk Barn to say “hi.”