Zoe Blacha

Zoe Blacha
"Volunteering teaches you that one person can make a difference."
Zoe Blacha is in grade 7 at Prairie River Junior High and the proud recipient of not just one but two Rick Hansen Difference Maker Awards for her dedication to volunteering in her local community.

At elementary school Zoe successfully balanced being an overall honor student with helping others. She mentored younger students helping them learn to read, and helped teachers when other students needed some extra support.
Zoe has also been very involved in her local community, volunteering at the municipal library from an early age. She has helped out at events such as the Penny Carnival, the annual Christmas party and the Senior's Strawberry Tea to name a few. Whenever the library needs volunteers Zoe is on the top of the list. When fires swept through the neighboring community of Slave Lake in 2011, Zoe responded by getting up early the next morning to go to the library to help pack boxes of books to take to the evacuation center.

Zoe loves singing, and has used her talents to volunteer at the local senior's lodge. She also regularly accompanied her mum to work to aid an elderly couple. Zoe showed her compassion by coming and simply spending time speaking with them, weeding their flower beds or picking berries from the garden. Those simple acts meant a lot to the couple, who had no immediate family nearby.

Now at Prairie River Junior High, Zoe is the only member of the grade 7 classes that has joined student government and is excited about having input in her school.  She still volunteers at the library and helps her mom in supporting a person with quadriplegia.

We spoke to Zoe to find out more about what inspires her to be such a dedicated and committed volunteer.

Who or what has most inspired, supported andmotivated you to volunteer in your community and help around school? Do you have a particular quote or person who motivates you?

Rick Hansen,of course! I learned about him at school and on the news. I love how no matter what, he didn't give up.

My parents, friends and teachers also motivate me.

My favorite quote is "Live life by hoping for the best, preparing for the worst and expecting the unexpected."

Why do you think it is important for young people to volunteer?

I think volunteering is very important because it teaches you to be helpful, no matter what.

It also teaches you that one person can make a difference; if someone sees you doing something, they'll help too, and so on. Volunteering shows that a little help can go a long way.

How did you feel when you found out you had got the Rick Hansen Award from your school?

I was really happy and excited, and I was proud. The first time I was shocked because I didn't think I was doing that much because I enjoyed it. When I look back, I did volunteer quite a bit, it just didn't feel like it because I had fun while I was doing it.

What would you like to do in the future?

Mostly, I just want to be an inspiration to young and older people in and out of my community.I would also love to go to Africa and work there with kids. I will definitely continue volunteering, in and around my community.

The Rick Hansen Difference Maker Awards recogniseyoung people like Zoe who make positive change in their communities. The Awards are part of the Rick Hansen Foundation School Program, which helps schools promote inclusivity and accessibility, develop leadership and teamwork, and inspire students to make a difference in the lives of others.

Click here to find out more about the Awards.