“It was one of the most exciting and overwhelming feelings I’ve ever experienced,” Kouao said about her win. “Going to where some of the most important battles in Canadian history have happened will give me a deeper understanding of what occurred there, and help me become a better citizen.”
The Vimy Foundation presents the award annually, to recognize outstanding youth dedicated to the betterment of society through volunteer work, positive contributions, notable deeds, or bravery. As part of the honour, Kouao, a Grade 10 student at Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute (VCI), will join 19 other students from across Canada, on a fully funded tour of Belgium and France, from April 1 to 10.
They will visit Ypres, the In Flanders Fields Museum, Langemark cemetery, Beaumont Hamel, and other historic sites from the war. She will also participate in the Vimy Day commemoration ceremony at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
Kouao was selected, following an intensive application process, because of her wide-ranging volunteer work at school and in her community, some of which include volunteering with the Acquire for Children youth choir; the Vankleek Hill Music and Arts Summer Camp; and VCI’s Interact Club and Bridge Crew. She has also helped with VCI’s We Scare Hunger food drive, Child Haven International fundraising dinners, and a cake auction to benefit Champions for Kids.
In the lead-up to the trip, Kouao will participate in a group research project on the contributions of Canadian women to the war effort, and report on a Canadian soldier buried in one of the cemeteries the group will visit.
“This is a very prestigious award and a great opportunity for Anna to learn about an important part of our nation’s history,” said VCI Principal Trevor Wheeler. “We are very proud of her.”