Mount alum DeRico Symonds always knew he wanted to contribute to his community.

derico2The Child and Youth Study graduate and former member of the university’s men’s varsity basketball team was a stand-out student during his years at the Mount. Now four years post-graduation, DeRico is making his mark and others are taking note. DeRico has recently been named one of two 2016 recipients of the Irving and Ruth Pink Award for Youth Development and Social Justice. Established by Dalhousie’s Legal Aid Office four years ago, the award celebrates outstanding contributions aimed at supporting youth and advancing issues of youth social justice.

DeRico received the award in recognition of his work to establish the Future Roots program, launched just eight months ago.

Operating out of Veith House in Halifax’s north end, the program is designed to help build relationships and connect neighbours where links might not have existed previously. It does this by employing youth aged 14 to 19 to provide services to residents in the area. For example, following a snowfall, youth in the program offer early morning shoveling services to a list of customers.

DeRico and two colleagues came together to start the program to serve the needs of the community (for example, north end residents with mobility issues) while supporting young people (aged 14 to 19) looking for employment. Youth from Mulgrave Park are engaged in the program, and other youth service organizations have referred participants.

During an appearance on CTV Morning Live on January 19, 2016, host Heidi Petracek noted about Future Roots: “[it’s] fairly new, but making a big impact”. [DeRico on CTV, CBC Radio, Global]

DeRico will receive his award at a Social Justice Soiree to be held January 30, 2016 at Casino Nova Scotia.

Congratulations DeRico!

[Read DeRico’s Mount story here.]