Norwell District Secondary School student Bella Winkel had the honour of representing the school at the Empowering Young Women’s Conference this year.
Her introduction of keynote speaker Jamie McMillan was inspirational to all in attendance, officials say.
The Grade 9 student began her speech by stating, “I am here today because I am a little different than the average teenager.”
Winkel has a disorder which affects her whole lower body.
“When people hear that you have a disability they think that you can’t work or have dreams. I want to work in a trade with computers, robotics or woodworking because that is where my heart lies,” she told the conference crowd.
Winkel explained that in November she was in the audience at a Skills Ontario Young Women’s Event.
“That day a mentor told me my story could inspire others, that I was beautiful inside and out, and that I was going to do amazing things with my life. That mentor was Jamie McMillan, who is here today to share her story with all of you.”
McMillan and other mentors in sectors such as motive power (which includes the automotive and aerospace industries, construction, hospitality, industrial, construction and horticulture), spent the day with girls from nearly 20 high schools from across Ontario, encouraging them to consider careers in skilled trades.
Winkel’s own choice to work in the trades was heavily inspired by McMillan.
“Bella is an inspiration to all of Norwell,” school officials state, adding she has overcome incredible odds, having been diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant but never allowing her disability to hold her back.
“If anything she has excelled because of her desire to prove everyone wrong,” officials say, adding Winkel does not believe in the statement “you can’t” and pushes herself and others to greater achievements.
Winkel was recently voted into the position of Grade 10 representative for the student council and has an infectious level of enthusiasm and optimism.
She hopes the Skills Ontario Young Women’s Event expands to include Norwell, as she believes more attention needs to be paid to inspiring girls to join the trades.
“Norwell would like to congratulate Bella on her achievement; we are so proud of you,” school officials state.