Marie Sharpe Elementary School principal Calvin Dubray presents Rick Hansen Difference Maker of the Year award winner Hayden Kalelest with a certificate of recognition

Marie Sharpe Elementary School principal Calvin Dubray presents Rick Hansen Difference Maker of the Year award winner Hayden Kalelest with a certificate of recognition

Marie Sharpe student named Rick Hansen 2016 Difference Maker of the Year

The Rick Hansen Foundation has named Williams Lake's Hayden Kalelest as its Difference Maker of the Year for 2016.

Each year, the Rick Hansen Difference Maker of the Year award recognizes a Canadian student who has followed in Hansen’s footsteps by overcoming adversity to make an outstanding contribution to his or her community.

In 2016, the Rick Hansen Foundation has named Williams Lake’s Hayden Kalelest as its Difference Maker of the Year for his perseverance, courage and leadership, the foundation said in the announcement made Monday, Aug. 29.

Hayden contracted a respiratory virus when he was nine months old, causing diminished lung capacity. He has also struggled with learning and behavioural challenges.

Despite his challenges Hayden leads by example.

A Grade 6 student at Marie Sharpe Elementary School, Hayden is going into Grade 7 at Lake City Secondary’s Columneetza Campus when school goes back next week.

During his time at Marie Sharpe, Hayden has transformed to become a positive role model for his peers, both at school and in his First Nations community.

He’s an enthusiastic leader on his sports teams, and has taken a teammate with autism under his wing, encouraging the student to compete.

Inspired by a Grade 7 student who mentored him in the school’s Big Buddy Reading Program, Hayden now mentors several vulnerable younger students to help them appreciate the value of reading at any skill level.

He’s also a popular lunch monitor for the Grade 1 and 2 students, comforting them when they hurt themselves on the playground.

He has embraced other activities at his school, from setting up chairs and tables for special events, to participating on the Student Leadership team, to representing the school in showcases such as Hoop Dancing.

Since Hayden has taken on (and been given) more leadership responsibilities in the past two years, he has changed noticeably as a student.

His family also believes his life changed during this time when he participated in a sweat lodge with his uncle and connected with his spirituality and culture. This year, Hayden won the school’s Most Improved student award.

“I’m just trying to be my best,” Hayden says.

In transitioning to middle school this year, Hayden hopes to play as many sports as possible, despite relying on puffers to ease the pressure in his lungs.

By continuing to embrace his challenges head on and overcome obstacles, Hayden is truly a Difference Maker.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Members of the Tl’etinqox First Nations are awaiting word of when they will receive their second dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
‘We need the second round’: Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse questions vaccine roll-out

It’s been 42 days since Tl’etinqox First Nation members received their first dose of Moderna

A drive-thru restaurant and beer and wine store is being proposed by Broadway Landco Management Ltd. for the former Chemo RV site at 1704 Broadway Ave. South. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Drive-thru restaurant, beer and wine store proposed for Williams Lake

Owners of property at 1704 Broadway Ave. South have applied for a zoning amendment

Avalanche Canada has issued a special avalanche warning for the Cariboo Mountains effective through the weekend. (Wes Gregg photo)
The city of Williams Lake has received provincial funding for a proposed boardwalk connecting the RC Cotton Trail to the River Valley Recreational Trail. (City of Williams Lake rough visualization of the proposal)
$550,000 provincial funding announced for Williams Lake boardwalk trail

The boardwalk will connect the new RC Cotton Trail to the river valley

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read