Fascinating Expedition & Adventure Talks (FEAT) Canada is proud to announce FEAT Kids, a speaker series aimed to encourage young people to chase their dreams and make a change. On March 4, 2015 at the Centennial Theater in North Vancouver, eight young speakers will share with the audience some of the greatest moments they have learnt from their past experiences as well as the lessons learnt along the way. These kids are the perfect role models for younger generations and demonstrate what it takes to be future leaders in the community.
FEAT Kids is already SOLD OUT! and will feature: Willem Young (swimmer), Maia Schwinghammer (skier), Priya Puri (traveler), Sydney Norris (traveler), Andrew Warner (traveler), Rory MacDonald (traveler), Hunter Sones (biathlete), and Kennedy Kopke (racer). Kate Rowan is back for another year, but instead of being in the hot seat, she will be this year’s FEAT Kids MC. A great way to start the day!
Willem Young: Swimming for a Cause
At 14 years old, Willem Young has become FEAT Kids’ water warrior. Since finding his love of water sports at 6 years old after joining the North Vancouver Cruisers Swim Club, Willem became a dedicated members of Tri4Ghana, an athletic group of three boys that raised funds to create education opportunities for others across the world.
Tri4Ghana all began when Willem’s school, Island Pacific School on Bowen Island, became involved in a pen pal program with kids who live at the Royal Seed home, an orphanage in Casoa, Ghana. When Willem found out that the children would no longer be able to attend school after grade 9 unless someone funded their education, Willem and his friends felt they had the power to make a change.
Willem had been commuting by ferry from North Vancouver, BC to get to his school on Bowen Island, and saw the ferry crossing as an excellent opportunity for a 3.5km open water swim. After mentioning the idea to his friends, they came up with the idea of making a 55km relay triathlon from Deep Cove to Bowen Island in support of their pen pals in Ghana. While most people prefer to commute by car, bus, or bike, Willem’s choice was by swimming!
The triathlon began with a 41km bike ride from Deep Cove to Whyte Cliff Park and then a 3.5km swim from Whyte Cliff Park to Sandy Beach, Bowen Island. The last leg was a 12.5km run from Sandy Beach up Mt. Gardener and back down to Willem’s school. The original goal was to raise $10,000; however, with help from an $18,000 matching donation from Sanctuary For Kids, Willem and his team raised a total of $40,000! Since putting his swim cap on and completing the relay, Willem and his friends have enable ten kids from the Royal Seed Orphanage to start high school and further their education.
Maïa Schwinghammer: Finding Your Inner Fuel
Maïa Schwinghammer is Canada’s future freestyle champion. Maïa has styled her way to the top, sweeping podiums in 2014 with a 1st place finish at BC Freestyle Championships - Super Youth in Moguls and Big Air and by 1st place at BC Freestyle- Super youth tour in Slope style. Her determination, strength, and focus with the Saskatchewan Freestyle Ski Team and Whistler-Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club have payed off with Maïa earning a 1st place in moguls at Apex and at Whistler Timber Tour in 2015. This girl is one to watch at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Korea!
Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Maïa lives a double life by splitting her time between the Saskatoon prairies and the Whistler snow and mountains. This type of lifestyle also has Maïa finding the right balance between the life on the hills as a freestyle skier and life as a 13 year old. She is often on the road living from her suitcases, saying good bye to friends, and keeping up with school on her own during the winter months. While there are many sacrifices that Maïa needs to make, none of them will get in the way of her dream as a Freestyle athlete on the Canadian National Freestyle Ski Team.
Maïa is determined, strong, and well disciplined. She knows that in order to achieve her dreams she has to be dedicated to the sport, work hard during every training and practice, push herself further and further, be brave with every jump, and stay focused on the goal. “Believing in yourself and knowing that you CAN do it is one of the hardest parts of this sport… When I’m at the top of the course I’m so nervous and scared but when the starter says 3-2-1 you can’t help but smile, no matter how nervous you are. You just have to remember why you are doing it – because you love it. There is no other reason why I do it. I mean, think about it going 10 meters every second down a mogul field then jumping into the air thinking to yourself ‘land it, please land it!’. I’m pretty sure the only reason why someone would want to do that is because they love it!” We’re pretty sure that everyone is going to love what Maïa has to say at FEAT Kids!
Priya Puri: The Way I See It
Priya Puri is known for broadening her mind and for her willingness to explore. Priya is someone who appreciates diversity, enjoys volunteering and dreams of travelling the world. In her Grade 11 year at Riverside Secondary, Priya was faced with an opportunity to participate in a “Voluntour” trip to Ecuador. This journey, Priya did not refuse.
Priya has always been open to trying new activities; she has done several sports and loves being outdoors. The lessons she has learned about commitment, hard work and passion through her athleticts have helped her thrive to become a leader and get the most out of her trip to Ecuador. The 10 days she spent being a part of Ecuadorian communities changed her perspective in ways she could have never imagined and she gives credit to that adventure for being the person she is today. Learning by exploring is something Priya clearly excels at.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” is a quote that has always inspired Priya Puri to open her mind and try new things in her life. Based on Priya’s record, she’s already done leaps and bounds!
Sydney Norris: “Is That A Lion Outside My Tent?”
Raised in North Vancouver, BC Sydney always found an outdoor adventure right outside her door. Thanks to her parents, Sydney inherited a love for the outdoors after being exposed to rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, mountain biking and backcountry skiing. Knowing all these great sports opened up the doors for more adventure and, thankfully, Sydney has decided not to shy away from a single opportunity!
When she wasn’t playing in the backcountry of BC, she was travelling the world. As a young traveller, she found adventure while sailing tall ship in Australia, riding elephants in the jungles of Cambodia, canoeing in Vietnam, snorkeling in Honduras, kayaking with crocodiles in the remote Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, and horseback riding in Cappadocia, Turkey. Traveling has shown Sydney that it’s not the destination itself but the warmth of the people and the untamed wilderness which makes travelling each country unique.
Over the years, she hasn’t lost her love for travel. In 2014, at the age of 12, Sydney travelled to Zambia and Botswana in Southern Africa with her parents
Andrew Warner: Educating Empathy
Andrew Warner is a 17 year old actor, writer and spoken word performer with an innate passion for activism. This year he was named the provincial champion of high school poets in April and competed with the Vancouver Team to win nationals in August.
In 2013 he worked as a student reporter for the CBC developing his journalistic abilities. In that same year he travelled to Haiti with his mother and Rose Charities to document the post-earthquake health care needs. In the following months he became a youth ambassador for World Vision and became a leader in the discussion on ethical chocolate. Talk about a sweet passion!
His endeavors in performance have always been fuelled by a love of story-telling, but his writing and his humanitarian efforts have been inspired by the drive to create positive social change. With people like Andrew, we feel safer about the future of our planet and all its residents! We can’t wait to see
Rory MacDonald: Wanderlust
Hello, Bonjour, Guten Tag! With a passion for languages and cultures, Rory MacDonald is working his way to speaking to everyone around the world. At the age of 4, he would tell family and friends that he spoke Squirrel, and that he learned Squirrel in China. Squirrel was just the start, and soon Rory completed 4 years in French Immersion. He spent a year abroad in Germany with Rotary International, and thanks to this opportunity, Rory can now add German to his resume of languages.
Rory would like to bring his passion into our education system so more youth can have the opportunities that he was granted. You can often see him at school hanging out with international students or at extracurricular activities such as Interact or Leadership. His parents believe that when he grows up they will see him as the poster man for National Geographic. From Squirrel to German, Rory doesn’t seem to have enough of languages!
Hunter Sones: Love What You Do and Why You Do It
Hunter Sones was only five years old when he was introduced to Biathlon. As a multi-sport event combining cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship, it’s definitely not your every day sport! Requiring strength, endurance, and precision Hunter has found his sport and passion. “I find even the most brutal training days to be a truly enjoyable experience because I love what I do and why I do it.” This is definitely an attitude everyone should live by!
Since 2003, Hunter has had the opportunity to work with the countries top coaches and compete against some of North America’s best athletes. His skill and talent in biathlon greatly helped Hunter in his newer pursuit (and off-season training): trail/mountain running. Since his introduction to the sport in 2010,Hunter has set the Junior-Elite record in 5Peaks Whistler and placed 2nd in the U-20 category in the coveted Squamish 23km trail race. It seems that Hunter is a quick learner and an even quicker runner!
His athletic excellence was recognized in 2012 when Hunter received the W.R. Bennett award at the BC winter games. In 2013 he won bronze at the Individual North American/Calforex Cup in Canmore, Alberta. But this was just a start. 2014 was a big year for Hunter with winning gold at the BC Winter games followed-up by a gold and bronze placement at the North American/Calforex Cup in Canmore. His achievements and hard work have landed Hunter with a #1 ranking in the Calforex tour in the Individual event. Hunter plants to continue to strive for YOG, the World Cup circuit, the Hardrock 100 and the Olympic Games. We all look forward to seeing Hunter at the top of the podium!
Kennedy Kopke: What Will You Choose?
FEAT is proud to present a very wise Kennedy Kopke. Raised in West Vancouver, Kennedy is a grade 3 student at Mulgrave School and the youngest speaker to step on the FEAT stage. Just don’t let her age fool you. Kennedy has the discipline, strength, and focus that have helped her reach her highest potential and that will continue to help her strive as she moves forward.
Kennedy is the kind of girl that loves trying new activities and doesn’t shy away from a challenge. Whether it’s her seven triathlons under her belt, her blue belt in karate, skiing the local mountains, or her 5 km road races, Kennedy goes all in. Working hard and keeping her eyes on her goal have led Kennedy to great adventures and important teachings.
Kennedy is introspective about taking on challenges and talks about the nagging little voices in her head. Some are constructive and tell her to go harder. Others are negative and tell her to quit. In her athletic or public speaking competitions, she is learning to overcome the discouraging voices to earn her podium finishes. Maybe Kennedy will reveal on March 4th some of her discoveries that will help others to stay positive when challenges lie ahead!
Kate Rowan: FEAT Kids MC!
A previous speaker on FEAT, Kate Rowan will be making a second appearance on stage as this year's FEAT Kids MC! Residing in West Vancouver, Kate has always had a strong fascination for war and how countries and citizens regain peace that was once lost.
Living in Belgium in 2003 and being exposed to war relics such as Flanders Fields and the D-Day beaches, enhance Kate's interest in war history. After a month in Vietnam and Cambodia in 2010, her interests broadened and she found interest in genocide. With her newfound passion, Kate spent 6 months researching conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Rwandan Genocide.
Her passion and determination proved worthwhile with Kate obtaining permission from the UN and government to visit and interview refugees who have survived Rwanda's UNHCR camps. All of Kate's journeys and opportunities have encouraged Kate to find ways to make a positive impact on the lives of those displaced and affected by war in the DRC and to discover the way that people can regain peace.
FEAT Kids is excited to be hosting these outstanding and athletic young people. Hopefully, young audience members will become inspired to go on their own adventures and will learn what it takes to achieve goals!
Tickets for FEAT the Adult Series are still available. Get yours today!