"I really enjoy connecting with other visually impaired students and helping out in any way I can."
Described as an outstanding early leader, Jessica Rideout's volunteer work and big heart has been recognized with a Rick Hansen Award. A visually-impaired grade eight student from Crawford Bay, BC, Jessica's determination, inspiration, courage, leadership and teamwork has made a difference in the lives of others and exemplifies the qualities that the Rick Hansen Difference Maker Program aims to celebrate.
Leadership skills developed and put to use helping others
"Jessica has incredible leadership skills," says Sofeya Devji, her vision teacher for the past three years. "She takes on activities that a coordinator would usually perform, and helps with the Kootenay Project Adventure for the Visually Impaired program by planning events, fundraising and programming."
Of all her students, Devji says that Jessica, who dreams of being a teacher, is the most involved student in the West Kootenay region.
Jessica also worked for her school's community mentorship program where she taught a grade five science class, and created a specialized book bag for a student with cerebral palsy. "I wanted to create something that was very tactile," Jessica says.
Difference makers starting early
Dan Rude, the Principal of Crawford Bay School, says Jessica is up for anything. "The grade five to eight students are really proving to be early leaders," notes Dan.
The Rick Hansen Awards Program "is exceptionally easy to implement with lots of support in the form of posters, DVDs and certificates," Lori O'Neill, Jessica's teacher, notes.
"I was very surprised I won the Rick Hansen Award," Jessica says. "I was really proud, too."
We congratulate Jessica for the difference she is making in the lives of visually impaired students and the student body as a whole, and hope she continues to be inspired by Rick's story to create a more inclusive world for all.
The Rick Hansen Difference Maker Program empowers young people to make positive change in their communities. Click here to find out more.
Read more stories of inspirational young Difference Makers here.