A third-year psychology student at York University’s Glendon College has earned the 2023 National Youth of the Year award from BGC Canada, the country’s largest child- and youth-serving charitable and community services organization. The award is presented in partnership with Hyundai Canada.
Sebastian Cifuentes was selected for his outstanding leadership, service and achievements within his community at BGC West Scarborough. As a natural-born leader within his club, Cifuentes says he wants to use his voice to amplify those in his community that need to be heard. He plans to share his experiences as a child of immigrant parents to help others understand the value of making opportunities, resources and programs accessible to families.
Youth of the Year is BGC Canada’s national initiative, now in its third year, that acknowledges and honours exceptional young individuals. It strives to inspire young people to serve as active role models and advocates for youth across the country.
“Sebastian is an incredible volunteer and contributor to BGC West Scarborough and to his community. I am extremely proud of him and all of our participants in the Youth of the Year program,” says Owen Charters, president and chief executive officer of BGC Canada. “As BGC ambassadors, they are working to define the next generation of young people through their compassion, dedication and drive. They have already made a strong impact on their local communities and clubs, and I can’t wait to see what they do next as they continue to grow and thrive.”
As an aspiring educator, Cifuentes is also the founder of the Homework Help Program at BGC West Scarborough – a one-to-one after-school academic support program for children within schools around the community. He was moved to start this program after his own experiences, and realizing many youth in his community had difficulty finding support for their homework, living in homes where English is not the first language. Cifuentes continues to advocate for education as the key to unlocking someone’s full potential.
“Everyone has the power to be a leader, but not everyone recognizes it. BGC Canada has given me the opportunity to thrive and own who I am,” said Cifuentes. “My biggest passion is to work with the community and to help kids learn. It is my goal to become a teacher and work with youth full time.”
Youth of the Year winners receive prize packs, laptops and post-secondary scholarships, as well as media and leadership training to prepare them for the next two years as official BGC ambassadors.
The home club of each Youth of the Year recipient will also receive a grant to further support their youth engagement and leadership work. Learn more about Youth of the Year at bgccan.com/youth-of-the-year.