‘Outstanding’ young volunteers receive awards

Twin Markham sisters who offer free tutoring to new Canadians across the country are among the recipients of the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers for 2022.

Meihuan and Meilun Yu, students at Markville Secondary School, both struggled learning English as immigrants and co-founded The New Gen, a non-profit with a mission to provide free art and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) tutoring for newcomers and refugees, in 2021.

Meilun Yu

Meihuan also established the Canadian Young Investors Society to offer educational resources to help prepare students for real life with a focus on investing, budgeting and tax planning. She’s also credited with inventing Computer Operating Assistance System Technology that enables people with disabilities to operate a computer with their feet using a mouse.  Meilun is also the co-chair of MP Mary Ng’s Markham-Thornhill Youth Council among many other groups, helping tackle mental health, education, employment and climate change issues among youth.

The Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers represents the highest honour bestowed by the province for young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in recognition of outstanding contributions through volunteering in their communities and throughout the province.

“I am excited to help present the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers to such an inspiring group of recipients,” Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Edith Dumont said at the March 1 award ceremony. “As we recognize their achievements, we also shine a light on their tremendous potential and the bright future for Ontario that these youth represent.”

Kanish Baskaran

Dumont also presented awards to 2021 recipients, including Kanish Baskaran of Stouffville. He co-founded Health for Homeless after learning about the barriers to health care that people experiencing homelessness face. His pro-bono organization has raised almost $3,000 to provide care kits to families and has grown to provide conferences, workshops and a podcast entitled, ‘A Hidden Epidemic.’ Baskaran is now a medical student at the University of Toronto, passionate about addressing the social and biomedical facets shaping the health of homeless and low-income communities.

Fellow 2021 award recipient Natalie Chen of Markham co-founded World in Focus at the age of 15 after learning about the barriers to accessing vision care overseas. The organization has raised more than $6,000 and sponsored 24 pediatric cataract surgeries. In 2017, she launched an annual international writing and art contest to celebrate the importance of vision that has since received 650 submissions from 50 countries. Chen also contributed her time to McMaster University’s Emergency First Response Team. She’s currently in her second year of medical school and hopes to use the skills and knowledge she’s gained along her journey to advocate for future patients and make a positive impact.

From left, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Edith Dumont, Meihuan Yu and Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism Michael Ford. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Citizenship and Multiculturalism.

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