Arts & Life
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This article was published 16/4/2018 (922 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Grade 8 student’s devotion to the safety and care of animals has earned him a humanitarian award from the Manitoba Teachers’ Society.
Mackenzie Clark, a 13-year-old student from École Harrison, was one of four recipients of this year’s Manitoba Teachers’ Society Young Humanitarian Award for his ongoing work with the Brandon Humane Society, having raised more than $16,000 for the organization.
Clark was recognized at an awards ceremony on Thursday at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People in Winnipeg.
"I was pretty honoured to get that good news," Clark said.
Inspired at the age of six, Clark, known by most as simply Mac, felt motivated to act after taking part in the Humane Society’s Wag-a-Tail Walk-a-Thon event.
While there, he met a dog named Kallie, who lost a leg after being abused by a previous owner.
Since then, Clark has helped raise money for the Humane Society, gaining the support of a number of community partners, including Precision Toyota.
He set up his own Facebook page called Scales and Tails, which aims to raise awareness of animal rights, and over the years his family has adopted four dogs — Rocky, Java, Shaggy and Henry.
Kallie, who Clark first met seven years ago, passed away last year, but he said it reaffirmed his own reasons for doing what he does.
Last spring, he organized a fundraiser of his own called Pedal for Paws, where he and others took part in a 10-kilometre bike ride.
Clark himself pledged to cycle 150 kilometres over a few months and by the end, he managed to raise just over $3,500.
Pedal for Paws will make a return this year on May 6 at Kin Park and Clark said he hopes to raise $4,000 this time around.
"It kind of feels good to be able to help out with something that I care about," he said.
Clark’s mother, Robyn Paulishyn, said as her son has grown older, part of what she has tried to do as a parent is support him in his efforts, but also give him the ability to make his own decisions and allow him to learn and grow.
"It’s inspiring myself to watch him," Paulishyn said.
Tracy Munn, shelter manager for the Brandon Human Society, credited Paulishyn for raising her son well and called what Clark has done over the past few years "phenomenal," adding he has set the bar pretty high.
"He cared, he wanted to make a difference," Munn said. "I mean, it’s enough just for people to care. He cared, and then some, and we have to remember his age."
Munn often jokes about Clark becoming Canada’s next prime minister, but Clark says he hasn’t thought about pursuing a future career in politics just yet.
Clark will be attending École secondaire Neelin High School next school year and hopes to keep his Pedal for Paws fundraiser going through until he reaches Grade 12.
As for the advice he would give to someone wanting to act on something he or she cares about, Clark said to be confident in yourself.
"Sometimes when you’re young, it doesn’t feel like you have much power to do things like that, because you’re just a kid ... but you can do a lot," he said.
"You can make big changes, you don’t need to wait for that."
» Twitter: @mtaylorlee
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