The Lloydminster Lions have bestowed the accolade of Junior Citizen of the Year along with honours to two long serving members.
Lloydminster Bobcats player Jayven Leslie has gotten the accolade as he led efforts to fundraise for youth mental health programs.
The Bobcats all got buzz cuts in January as they raised over $30,000 to support programs in both Lloydminster school divisions. From those efforts and other ventures, in March, the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation was able to donate $132,000 to the SHINE program to support new mental health programs for all Lloydminster grade eights over the next two-years.
Leslie deals with the stigma surrounding mental health, especially of male athletes.
“There’s a stereotype that if you have mental health – you seem weak. You’re not as tough or as strong as all the other athletes in the sport, but that’s just flat out not true. And I want to come out and say, “Hey, I’m someone who grew up as a hockey player. I’ve lived in Lloydminster my whole life and I hope that I was a role model for some kids.” I hope that by coming out and showing that not everyone is perfect – I have mental problems, I am hoping that other people will be able to say, “Hey, if he can do it, I can do it,” says Leslie.
Also, getting awards on Tuesday night were members Dr. Raff Sayeed who received the Melvin Jones Fellowship and Lions secretary Kathy Smithson got the Marvin Chambers Fellowship.
Sayeed has led over four decades of medical service in the community and countless volunteering efforts with numerous causes including the Lloydminster Lions. The award he received is from Lions International and is the highest honour given to members.
Back in the 70s and 80s, Sayeed was key to supporting things like transporting human cornea donations from Lloydminster to Saskatoon. He sees a life of service as a double-edged gift.
“I’ve always believed that serving one’s fellow human being is the greatest honour and gift one can get. And that’s a gift to me when I do something for somebody else. I get more out of it than I can even express.”
Smithson’s award comes from the Saskatchewan Lions and is the provincial equivalent of the Lions International honour. She says that growing up, her parents were big volunteers in the community and “it was expected that that’s what you do.”
“Everything in the world is so chaotic. So, when you come to Lions and do something that’s helping somebody else out in the community – that keeps your feet on the ground. That’s sanity and that’s why I do it.”
The junior citizen award from the Lloydminster Lions was started in recent times and Leslie is the third recipient.