The road to Red Deer for Praveen Gladstone included a few stops along the way.
Gladstone, who was named Red Deer’s Young Citizen of the Year on Friday, was born in India and then spent 13 years in Dubai before immigrating to Canada with his family in 2014.
They lived in Calgary for five months until they moved to Red Deer.
Gladstone said it is incredible to be getting a Red Deer award.
“It means a lot coming from far away. It’s an honour to get this amazing award,” said the Grade 12 Hunting Hills High School student, who graduates next month.
In September, the 17-year-old will begin studying civil engineering technology at the University of Lethbridge.
Gladstone, who learned English in Dubai, was enrolled in an English as a second language program with Red Deer Public Schools for a short time after arriving in the city.
The school district said through hard work and determination, Gladstone’s confidence grew and he became a recognized and respected leader among Hunting Hills students.
He said moving to Canada has come with challenges that included bullying and racial discrimination.
“It’s gotten better. People have become nicer and more welcoming than before.”
He said it should not matter where someone is from or the colour of their skin.
“People should all be treated equally.”
When asked what being a good citizen means to him, the teen said people should just do their best to become part of the community and always stay strong.
At Hunting Hills, Gladstone participated in cross-country running, track and field and soccer, and has been part of the school’s leadership team.
Gladstone, who was involved in planning his school’s annual veterans’ dinner, said sitting down to talk with veterans to hear their stories, and for them to hear his story, were memorable experiences.
Gifts for Grandparents, which provides gift bags to seniors during the holiday season, is another initiative Gladstone has supported to give back to older generations.
He also served on the planning committee and supported initiatives for the school’s bike-a-thon, which raised $25,000 in 2017 for the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, Vantage Community Services and school programs.
Young Citizen of the Year is presented by Rotary Clubs of Red Deer.