March 30, 2016 – Okotoks resident Cole Whalley is the first recipient of the new Donald S. Ethell Award from the Lieutenant Governor’s Circle on Mental Health and Addiction.
Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell and former Lieutenant Governor Donald Ethell were in Okotoks March 30 to present the award at a morning ceremony at Foothills Composite High School. The event was attended by the recipient’s friends and family as well as community leaders, people working to advance mental health and addiction programs in the region and teachers and staff who have supported Cole in his journey.
Cole was nominated for the strength he has shown in his own recovery from addiction, as well as the volunteer service he has offered to the Foothills School Division Summer School Youth At-Risk class. Since 2014, Cole has served as a highly effective tutor, mentor and sounding board for students enrolled in the program while upgrading his own education in order to pursue post-secondary studies.
“Cole’s service is a reminder that individual citizens have the power to create meaningful change. Reaching out to share strength and understanding with those who are suffering and those who are at-risk is the best way to make our communities more compassionate places to be. It’s also the key to breaking down stigmas that prevent people from getting the help they need.”
“The goal of the Circle has always been to encourage open and honest conversations about mental health and addiction. When I meet great young Albertans like Cole Whalley, I know that we’re on the right track. I am truly inspired by his humility, grace and courage and I know there are many people in this community who feel the same way.”
The Donald S. Ethell Youth Award was created in 2015 in honour of the Circle’s founding patron and Alberta’s 17th Lieutenant Governor. It recognizes youth (age 25 or under) who are leading efforts to make Alberta communities safe places to talk about mental health. Nominations for the award are accepted year round. More information about the award and the Circle is at www.lgcircle.ca