Two Wellington County residents are being honoured with medals of recognition from the Governor General of Canada.
Puslinch resident Scott Graham received the Meritorious Service Medal from Governor General David Johnston on March 9 at a ceremony in London.
Fergus resident John Scott, who was unable to attend the ceremony due to illness, will receive his Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers by mail.
Graham and Scott are two of about 50 Canadians honoured with Governor General awards this year.
Graham received the Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division) for his work on the Kids 4 Kids program, which he started 25 years ago.
“Meritorious Service Decorations celebrate Canadians who have performed an exceptional deed or activity that brings honour to Canada,” a government press release states.
“The Civil Division recognizes remarkable contributions in many different fields of endeavour, from advocacy initiatives and health care services, to research and humanitarian efforts.
“The contributions can be innovative, set an example for others to follow or improve the quality of life of a community.”
Graham said “it was … very flattering to be nominated and then get the award.”
As part of Kids 4 Kids, he runs after school programs teaching students about leadership, anti-bullying skills, anger management and how to deal with peer pressure.
“The whole point is I teach kids so they can help themselves and help other kids too,” Graham told the Advertiser on March 13.
“So the kids enjoy it because it’s fun, but they’re being taught very usable strategies.”
He also offers anti-bullying and leadership presentations, runs summer camps and he has written six best-selling books.
Kids 4 Kids grew from a realization that students in the Burlington school where Graham was working as an educational assistant were being bullied – but there were no community programs to help them.
“There wasn’t anything, which kind of disgusted me a little bit because I used to be bullied so I thought by now they would have something but there still was nothing and … kids would be taught … ‘walk away, tell a teacher,’” he explained.
“That’s been just the same old, same old for years.”
He began a Kids 4 Kids club at lunch where he taught students how to deal with bullying.
“The parents couldn’t believe the kids would go to something where they would be learning something and actually enjoy it,” he said, estimating he has helped between 25,000 and 30,000 kids over 25 years.
Graham said one of the highlights of the March 9 ceremony was meeting the Governor General.
“He’s kind of like the grandfather that you always wanted,” he said. “He’s just such a nice, nice man.”
Graham’s wife, brother, sister and father accompanied him to the ceremony, which coincidently took place on the birthday of his late mother, who passed away eight years ago.
“It was just a nice day,” he said.
Scott was chosen to receive a Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in recognition of 27 years of research and advocacy on Lyme disease and tick populations in Canada.
He and his wife Catherine, founded what is now called Lyme Ontario after it took four years for each of them to be diagnosed with Lyme disease.
“Basically I started from scratch,” Scott told the Advertiser on March 13.
“I was determined to do something and figure out what was going on across Canada with ticks and Lyme disease and so I just kept going from there.”
He has published more than 30 peer-reviewed scientific articles on the topic.
In addition to his research, Scott also works with patients, providing information, advice and aid in finding a doctor, etc.
“Over the years he has personally spoken to about 2,500 people, and has helped them get diagnosed and treated in a timely manner by giving them the names of Lyme-literate, health-care professionals,” Sharleine Haycock wrote in Scott’s nomination letter.
A government press release states the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers recognizes “exceptional volunteer achievements of individuals from across the country in a wide range of fields.
“As an official Canadian honour, the medal pays tribute to the dedication and exemplary commitment of volunteers.”
Even though he was unable to attend the March 9 ceremony Scott said he was pleasantly surprised when he found out he was receiving the award.
“I was very disappointed but I had to make sure I took care of my health so I stayed home,” Scott said.
He added he was “deeply honoured … to be acknowledged for all the work that I’ve done.”
The Governor General awards are presented “on behalf of all Canadians in communities across the country to help share inspiring stories, celebrate tremendous contributions to our society and connect with Canadians,” the government press release stated.
“From community volunteers to astronauts, from actors to members of the military, from scholars to everyday citizens, hundreds of Canadians earn our applause and gratitude.”
For a full list of award recipients visit www.gg.ca.