By TOM GODFREY
A popular Scarborough dentist is one of three people who received a Youth for Human Rights Award for their tireless work in the community.
Dr. Sheridan Cyrus, educator Bernadette Taylor-Dolha and youth leader, Abeir Liton, were presented with the awards last week before 150 people at the Ontario Science Centre.
“It feels great to be honoured by members of my community,” Dr. Cyrus told Share. “There is still a lot of work that has to be done in regards to human rights for everyone.”
Cyrus, who was born in Grenada and has an office in the Malvern area, is affiliated with many local clubs. He is Chair of the Board of the Malvern Family Resources Centre, which recently opened a facility with programs for area youth.
The long-time dentist worked in Ocho Rios in 2009 and 2010 with a charity organization called Nine Miles of Smiles in Jamaica, whose medics performed free dentistry for hundreds of residents.
“There were long lineups and we worked from day to night,” said Cyrus. “We must have performed more than 200 extractions in four days.”
One of Toronto’s top teachers, Taylor-Dolha was recognized for her work with young people.
The popular Grade 7 teacher at Markham’s Baythorn Public School was named a 2010 Teacher of the Year by the Toronto Star after being nominated by some of her students.
“She uses her passion for the arts and her true belief in the human spirit to inspire students,” said organizer, Nicole Crellin. “She draws on the creativity in students to find their passion for things they never even knew they had a passion for.”
Taylor-Dolha holds an acting degree from the University of Windsor and a teaching degree from York University. She once sang on stage at the Shaw Festival.
An ecstatic Liton was recognized for motivating others at school and in the community.
Liton is president of the Toastmasters’ Club and a member of his school’s debating club and Eco Council. He is also on the SciFi Youth Council at the science centre.
“This committed individual forged a path of social justice, trying to be an agent of change,” said Liton’s teacher, Nouha Sibai, in presenting him with the award. “He freely gives of his time and energy to support his school, community and those around him.”
Sibai said the teen is a member of the Valley Park Middle School student council and a Go Green project to help newcomers.
Crellin said Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) teaches young people about human rights and the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“We want to inspire youth to become advocates for tolerance and peace,” Crellin told Share. “This is a fundamental agreement on basic human rights that every human being should enjoy.”
Attendees were treated to Hula performances by a Polynesian dance company that carry on the Hawaiian culture.
YHRI creative director, Daphne Magna, said she loves working with young people and calls herself a “global bridger”.
“I am committed to training and developing programs for youth and adults to enhance their cultural awareness,” she said. “This will improve their ability to communicate across cultures which makes them better global citizens.”
Bass Ranjan, of YHR Toronto, works with young people to help them with business activities.
“It not only empowers them to succeed in life but by incorporating the elements of human rights it makes them aware and helps influence their families and communities as well,” said Ranjan.
YHRI is a non-profit organization founded in 2001 by Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, an educator born and raised in apartheid South Africa, where she witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of discrimination and the lack of basic human rights.