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Home Rural Roots Saskatchewan Junior Citizen of the Year award an unexpected honour for Prince Albert teenager

Saskatchewan Junior Citizen of the Year award an unexpected honour for Prince Albert teenager

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Saskatchewan Junior Citizen of the Year award an unexpected honour for Prince Albert teenager
Prince Albert’s Monica Steinke receives her Junior Citizen of the Year Award from Lt.-Gov. Russ Mirasty (left) and his wife Donna (right). -- Submitted photo.

It’s not often Monica Steinke takes a break from her volunteer work.

In fact, that’s exactly what she was finishing when she heard about her Saskatchewan Junior Citizen of the Year Award.

The Prince Albert teenager was one of four Saskatchewan youth who received the Saskatchewan Junior Citizen of the Year Award, plus a $3,000 bursary that goes with it. Steinke was returning from a volunteer trip to B.C. when a family friend phoned her to say she’d won.

It was definitely something she didn’t expect.

“I was in the back of the van when my adopted aunt called me, telling me about the award,” Steinke said. “I just thought, ‘wow, I never expected that one.’”

At 15 years old, Steinke has plenty of life experience that drove her to help others. As a youth, she spent plenty of time in hospitals, first when she broke both arms, requiring casts from her fingertips to her armpits, and later when she fell ill with a variety of ailments.

That experience showed her how lonely it could be in a hospital by herself, and it inspired her to begin visiting patients in the children’s ward of nearby hospitals along with her mother. She makes most of her visits during holidays like Christmas and Easter.

“I always remember it kind of sucked,” Steinke said. “You had to go sit in the hospital room while everyone else got to go make snowmen outside. I guess for the hospital thing, I wanted to be able to bring a little bit of joy to those kids who were stuck in a hospital room.”

Faith and family also played a big role in Steinke’s decision to volunteer. She became involved with the STEPS for Life Walk and has campaigned door-to-door for Diabetes Canada in honour of her grandfather and a few friends who lived with diabetes.

Despite her stays in hospital, Steinke said she’s had a good life, and that’s inspired her to give back to the less fortunate.

“I’ve been given a lot,” she said. “For me, it’s kind of a faith thing. My thing is to help other people, and to give everything I have, even when I don’t have a lot.”

Family friend Michelle Garrett nominated Steinke for the Junior Citizen of the Year Award. Garrett has known Steinke for years, and said she’s always been a smart and disciplined person with a heart for helping others.

“For a young person, she just found ways to make it alright,” Garrett said. “She’s always worked hard at school. She’s always cared about people, maybe a little more than she should maybe…. She’s just a very giving person. I thought, ‘what better person (to nominate)’.”

Steinke was one of four Saskatchewan youth to receive a Junior Citizen of the Year Award. The others were Jordyn Montgomery of Moose Jaw, Emily McCreery of Regina, and Corah Hales of Waldheim.

The Junior Citizen of the Year Award program is sponsored by the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspaper Association in partnership with SaskPower and the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan.

The awards recognize Saskatchewan youth who have the ability to overcome life’s challenges, have shown a positive lifestyle, inspire others, are dedicated to their community and school, and have a strong sense of caring and responsibility.