By Eunice Chong

Maya Morose, a Grade 9 student at Sir Oliver Mowat C.I., was recognized last month for her outstanding contributions to communities both at home and abroad through her volunteer work with WE Charity. The Leading Girls Building Communities Recognition Program annually honours girls under the age of 18 who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in improving the lives of others in their communities.

Her résumé is certainly impressive for one so young. Maya has given presentations at Joseph Brant Sr. Public School and conducted a series of workshops for Grade 4-8 students at West Lynde Public School in Whitby entitled Kindness + WE Movement = Wellness, which introduces the students to ME to WE’s mission.

Maya channels her passion for charitable commitments into her birthday celebrations each year, such as asking for food bank donations instead of gifts. Her 12th birthday party, in which teams of party guests completed an “Amazing Race of Kindness” around the community, caught the attention of teen activist and blogger Hannah Alper, the Huffington Post, and Montreal-based radio host Barry Morgan, who featured Maya and her mother Gabi on his show in 2015.

Gabi credits her daughter with spurring the family to expand their commitment to making education accessible: “We are proud of all that Maya has accomplished at her young age. She has driven our family to follow her passion for community service.”

Two years ago, the Morose family began raising money for WE through a series of pinball tournaments around the community, known as Pinball for Change. Since 2015, they have raised $20,000 to build classrooms in Kanambu, Ecuador. They were voted winners of the 2017 WE Family at Home Award and were featured in the September issue of Canadian Living.

“I wanted to show that even though I’m only one person I can make a big impact,” were Maya’s inspirational words in the magazine.

In recognition of their efforts, school trustee Jerry Chadwick asked the Moroses to present at the Ward 22 Forum in November 2017.

Unbeknownst to her, Maya’s speech at the forum caught the attention of local MPP Tracy MacCharles’ office, who then nominated her for the Leading Girls award in conjunction with Chadwick and superintendent Kerry-Lynn Stadnyk.

She truly had no idea of the award until she received a certificate in the mail in March. MacCharles presented the awards at a ceremony at UTSC.

“I was incredibly surprised and humbled by the honour,” said Maya. “It was so empowering to stand alongside all the powerful women and girls in my community that were also being recognized that night.”

Maya’s future goals include traveling with ME to WE to Ecuador. In the meantime, she brings exceptional dedication and leadership ability to her role as co-captain of the Mowat WE Club and thrives in the Performing Arts Honours Program in music and vocal.

Heather Hawley of the Centennial community was also recognized for her community contributions by the Building Communities Recognition Program in the Leading Women category.