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Role model youth wins Scotiabank International award Print E-mail
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Thursday, 04 May 2017 00:00

Benque Viejo del Carmen resident Ricky Cunil is once again the recipient of a prestigious international award. Cunil has won the Scotiabank International Bright Future Young Leaders Award, which is awarded to youths who make outstanding contributions to their communities. To be eligible, applicants must reside in a participating country, complete 100 hours of volunteerism in a minimum of three of the Bank’s six philanthropic pillars - education, arts, health, social services, sports and environment. The award promotes volunteerism in the young generation and each year 12 winners are chosen worldwide.  The official handing of this award is scheduled to take place on May 3rd at the Scotiabank Branch in Spanish Lookout, where he will become equipped with a tablet and obtain a scholarship to Sixth Form.

At this newspaper we have been following Ricky Cunil for several years, because he is a special person. The Department of Youth Services has highlighted Mr. Ricky Cunil as an exemplary citizen of Belize.

Ricky Cunil is the first disabled person to be the president of the Cayo District Youth Council. He is currently studying at the Mopan Technical High School and is undergoing his last year of High School. Ricky joined the Belize Defense Force in 2012. Unfortunately, in October 2012, while representing his former high school Alvin L. Young Nazarene School and while playing football with his school team, he met with an accident resulting in a foot amputation of his left leg. It was also discovered that he had a cancerous tumor. He was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone disease, and ended up losing his left leg about six inches above the knee; in spite of this, he has been a great support to all these organizations. His past community work in helping others allowed him to cope with this new tragedy and his resolve became stronger to do more good for others and make a positive difference in their lives. His foot amputation impacts other youth because he is showing them that there are options in life. This year he was given a new artificial leg and despite this terrible disability, he has become an inspiration to young people and acclaimed youth worker of Belize and his community.

At the age of 13, Ricky Cunil started doing volunteer community work, helping community groups and youth groups to develop. He started working with a youth group at church. Later in 2009, when the church youth group was well established, he joined the Belize Police Youth Cadet Corp. There he learned life, survival, leadership and decision making skills and on how to be a good law abiding citizen. Being in the Youth Cadet Corp allowed him to develop leadership and interpersonal skills, which he now shares with others.

Ricky Cunil has learned how to identify and develop potential youth leaders like himself in his community and our beautiful Belize. He now has eight years of volunteer experience working with the Police Department and has to date completed over nine years of volunteer work with young people and various community organizations. He is now a trainer, mentor and recruiter for many other organizations and a leading youth for our young people.

He always tells disabled persons and young people that one of the biggest challenges and fears of most disabled persons is to think  that they are useless, that they can’t do anything as they used to do. He even goes further in telling them that “I have overcome all these challenges as a disabled person, challenges that people who are physically fit can’t do or think they can’t do, because of their fear to fail and fear of how other people will look at them and say about them.” One of his secrets is “it is not only to think as a disabled person, but to think  more than a normal person you used to be at some point in life and see things from different angles and different points of view in life.”

Throughout the years, Ricky Cunil has become a member of several Organizations; because he believes we choose the life we want, and we decide whether we want to be the change in young people’s life. Always giving this recommendation “we must work and live on the edge as young leaders to ensure the change in young people’s lives and for empowerment to come to reality”.

Some of his major achievements are as follows:

Benque Police Youth Cadet Corp – Civilian Instructor & COP

Benque Community Projects – Co-founder, National Youth Council of Belize – Cayo District President

Rotaract Club of Benque Viejo – Community Service Director

Opening Roads for Future Generations Charity Organization – Member

Community of Artists for Cultural & Historical Endeavors –Public Relations Officer

Mopan Technical High School Student Council Former Vice President 2015-2016

Energy 4 Life Youth Group – Co-Leader

Alvin L. Young Nazarene High School Peer Helpers Group–Former President (2011-2012) and was elected as the First President when the group was just formed.

Cayo District Youth Council of Belize--President

He is also now a full Zone -4 Neighborhood Watch Lieutenant. Captain Sam Bruce reports that he has already started planning with Cunil this year’s 10th annual youth summer camp.

The Department of Youth Services also notes that Ricky Cunil has been and continues to be an inspiration and motivation to others regardless of his disability. He has overcome many obstacles and always perseveres in the face of difficulty. Ricky feels that he has been given a second chance at life, and chooses to focus on the positive rather than the negative. His energy and enthusiasm is infectious and evident to all those around him. He always thinks that it’s better to help others than just yourself and because of this he has dedicated most of his life to volunteer youth work. All he has done for his community, his country and for the young people of Belize has been in the name of community service.