By RON FANFAIR
Former Toronto Argonauts cornerback, Clifford Ivory, shows the same kind of zeal and enthusiasm off the field when he’s interacting with young people as he did on it.
In a passionate address to participants in the Young Achievers of Halton’s fifth annual graduation event last Sunday in Oakville, Ivory told the youth they can achieve anything they want if they believe in themselves.
“It’s not only up to me or your parents,” said Ivory, who holds the Argos record for the most interceptions returned for touchdowns. “It’s up to you to let your life shine so others can see it…You are the only ones that can write your own destiny.”
The three-time Canadian Football League all-star, who won a Grey Cup with the Argos five years ago, said he is devastated when he sees young people falling by the wayside.
“I get angry when I see kids failing,” said Ivory, who the Argos’ Michael “Pinball” Clemons said has a unique ability to touch and affect people.
Young Achievers of Halton president, Evelyn McIntosh, acknowledged this year’s participants for their dedication to the uplifting program and challenged them to take control of their destiny.
“Destiny is not a matter of chance but rather a matter of choice,” she told them. “It is not a thing to be waited for, but rather something to be achieved. You have been given some new and essential tools to enhance your lives, so seize every opportunity to use them to your advantage.”
She also urged the young achievers to be courageous, to ask many questions, set goals and execute them, choose their friends carefully, know their history because it will help to shape their future and share their culture with others.
“You were born to win,” she told the proud graduates.
St. Joseph Secondary School student, Emanuel Johnson and Robert Bateman High School graduate, Nneka Ebanks, were crowned this year’s Escort and Debutante of the Year. They previously took part in the little gents and ladies segment of the program.
“I have met many new friends in this program and I have also learned how to dance and to be more outgoing,” said Johnson, who relishes playing basketball, football and video games and plans to pursue engineering in university.
Ebanks, who enjoys volleyball, dancing and shopping, enters Sheridan College’s Cosmetic Techniques and Management program in September.
Individual awards and bursaries were presented to White Oaks Public School Grade 12 student, Rhyan Smith and Nelson High School Grade 11 student, Jabez Jones, for being the Most Improved Male and Female Participants and E.C. Drury Grade 10 student, Tara Galloway, who displayed proficient leadership skills.
“Tara displays the maturity of a person beyond her years,” said event co-master of ceremonies, Maureen Lee-Grant. “She’s also a quiet thinker who leads by example.”
The other Escorts and Debutantes were Neil Galloway, Martin Pitt, Steven Williams, Felicia Smith and Christina Williams.
This year’s little Ladies and Gents in Waiting were Eboni Branch, Alysha Cowans, Brittany Estwick, Ruth Jones, Ebony Powell, J’Rhon James, Jerome Mugambi, Nicholas Popovic, Kerwyn Telemaque, Celine Mugambi, Tyana Pike, Shanice Telemaque, Dasan Brown, Adonai Jones and Tysan Pike.