Every year, the Kitchener Youth Action Council (KYAC) celebrates the talents and contributions of young people in our community. We want to promote a positive image of young people and generate awareness of the valuable contributions youth make in our community.

On this page:

  1. Nominations
  2. Eligibility
  3. 2023 award winners


KYAC Youth Awards nominations are closed. Please subscribe to this page to get an email when we open nominations in the future.


Nominees must be between the ages of 14 and 24 and must live in the Kitchener - Waterloo area. Nominees should have completed some of their volunteer work or community contributions within the Kitchener community. There is also an award category for adults over the age of 24.

2023 award winners

In May 2023, KYAC recognized 43 nominees for their contributions and commitment to their community. KYAC presented awards to winners in 13 categories.

Open the accordions to learn about each winner.

Arts and Culture Award - Balint Agoston

There are many talented young people in our community creating awesome art. The winner of our Arts and Culture Award was selected for how they used art as a tool to help other youth share their voice and bring their own meaning to their world. Balint enjoys living a life filled with great art and pursues their passion for the arts through filmmaking, creative writing, storytelling, and a little humorous flair.

Entrepreneurship Award - Neha Lalany

It takes courage and passion to follow your heart and intuition in a “business” endeavour and this year’s winner of the Entrepreneurship Award did just that. After joining a youth advisory committee in grade 12, Neha realized the value of their own opinion, voice, and experiences. They quickly got involved with several youth-driven organizations in the community to continue to learn and grow, including Carizon, the Lyle Hallman Foundation, and Pathways to Education. These transformative experiences inspired them to continue on this path and bring opportunities to other youth.

Environment Award - Jaci Duguid

This year’s winner of the Environment Award has used an environmental approach in connecting with their cultural past and used their Indigenous ways of knowing to impact the environment. Using contemporary mediums like upcycling and sustainable practices, Jaci is combining traditional Indigenous practices such as beadwork, regalia making, paint and video to further promote awareness of Indigenous issues.

Intergenerational Award - Anastasia Fine

After almost seven years of living and working in Canada, the nominee’s father and family were denied permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. They were left without any support from local immigration service providers and had no protection as essential low-wage workers. Despite the stress and anxiety that this situation brought, the winner of this year’s Intergenerational Award stepped up to help their family, working tirelessly as a translator, filling out government paperwork, and even talking to lawyers, fighting for her family since a very young age. Anastasia’s selfless attitude, coupled with a desire to bring about positive change in society, is what makes this nominee stand out.

Personal Triumph - Ash Stubbs

This year’s winner of the Personal Triumph Award is someone who has overcome a lot of challenges in their life that most youth have not yet experienced and in some case, might never have to experience. And still, even with having to navigate incredibly difficult family, school and societal systems, they have pulled through and remain determined to find ways to give to others. Ash is community driven and is actively engaged in volunteering for City of Kitchener's youth events such Youth Thriftin' Night and Winter Warm Up! helping to make sure the events were set up and running smoothly and offering whatever help was needed- always kind and always willing to help!

Service and Caregiving Award - Ana Zavalza

This year’s winner is a Core Team Member of the Youth Network at the Canadian Council for Refugees, a vibrant national network of 200 organizations committed to the rights and protection of refugee and other vulnerable migrants and to the settlement and integration of newcomers to Canada. They volunteer as Spanish-English Interpreter at COMPASS Refugee Centre and as a Youth Leader at the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre.

Ana leads communication efforts, mentors new members, facilitates youth gatherings, advises on funding, aids caseworkers in translation, and truly makes a positive difference in the life of newcomer youth.

Social Action and Justice Award - Feiyang Luo

Our winner of the Social Action and Justice Award is a great example of someone who puts their ideas of justice into action. Noticing the increase in hate crimes in their community, province and beyond, Feiyang decided to take action. During the pandemic, they took on a volunteer role as the lead editor for the Waterloo Region Chinese Canadian Association. As the editor, they created videos spreading awareness about the pandemic in an attempt to eradicate the rising hate crimes against Asian people. Taking action did not stop there. They recently created an Asian Student Union at Cameron Heights to promote inclusivity and educate students on injustices.

Sports and Recreation Award - Cooper Hamilton

In their volunteer football coaching role, the winner of the Sports and Recreation Award always showed up early to practices to help those who wanted to get in a little extra work in. They also made themself available virtually to meet with those who needed it, recorded themself reviewing film so those who may not have had the time to meet live still had the access to information. Cooper is someone the players often went to for help both athletically and personally and was able to have a profound impact on the younger generation they worked with, many of whom looked to him for guidance on how to succeed at the next level.

Unity in Diversity

The winner of this year’s award for Unity in Diversity has found a multitude of ways to truly represent the values of this award - reaching across diversity to connect and enhance awareness, understanding and unity. Hilary Jane has spent a lot of energy to connect with their school community and keep culture alive within the school through:  planning the school’s Multicultural festival; organizing Black History Month activities at school to raise awareness; creating a diversity bulletin board at school to highlight diverse heroes around the world each week; and working with the Settlement Worker to create an African-Canadian Night that was attended by over 200 community members.

Group Award - Child & Youth Planning Table Youth Connectors (Chloe Budakian, Naher Tewelde, Abdullah Awan)

The winners of the Group Award work to bring youth voice into spaces traditionally held by adults. The Child & Youth Planning Table Youth Connectors (Chloe Budakian, Naher Tewelde, Abdullah Awan) connect with youth directly, but also work with adults from organizations across our communities. They consult with community partners, like City of Kitchener, City of Waterloo, Social Venture Partners, among others, providing a vital youth perspective on the work being done and ensuring that the work happening in Waterloo Region is accessible to youth, and considers youth voice and perspectives.

Youth Ally Award - Daniela Montoya

By being an avid volunteer in our community, this year’s Youth Ally Award winner is also an excellent role model. Through her work at Volunteer Waterloo Region, Daniela runs Youth programming. She supports youth as they begin their volunteer journey. She listens, cares and supports all young people who cross her path. She also advocates and connects our community and young people together. She does it all with a smile on her face and sparkle in her eye! In her nominator’s words “She is the definition of an adult ally.”

Leadership Award - Kenzy Soror

This year’s winner of the Leadership Award has a seasoned past of getting involved, leading the charge, and empowering others around them to do the same. Kenzy is an Elected Student Trustee who founded the WRDSB student roundtable and  led the "Reforming the Waterloo Region District School Board Student Trustee Elections" campaign. They are the co-founder of Canadian Young Investors society. They participated in the IBM QuibixQuibit and in a worldwide UW Quantum School for Young students.

Community Contributor Award - Naher Tewelde

This year’s Community Contributor Award winner received six nominations and was nominated in the Leadership, Service & Caring, Unity in Diversity, Social Action & Justice and Personal Triumph categories.

Naher has been an amazing volunteer at the KW Multicultural Centre – supported the Multicultural Festival and supported the Let's Talk youth program. She first connected with the Let's Talk program as a participant looking to gain career and educational guidance she did not stop there.  She is actively engaged in multiple groups and clubs, part of the Moving Black Lives Forward Program, and has been a part of several projects within Carizon, including a Food for Thought group that helped youth learn how to cook.  She has also done phenomenal work with the Children and Youth Planning Table- supporting the Youth Impact Survey which explored how various groups in the region (youth not born in Canada, homeless youth, racialized youth, etc.) feel in terms of belonging within the region.