The 2022 Ararat Youth Citizen of the Year was presented to Jaylen Stephen at the Australia Day Awards Ceremony on January 26.
Jaylen won the award due to her commitment to the 2021 Western Bulldogs Youth Leadership Program and her keen interest in helping young people in the community.
Throughout the leadership program, Jaylen engaged in a discussion driven by guest speakers, expressing her passion and concern on a range of topics, including gender equality, mental health and intercultural understanding.
Cr Bob Sanders said Jaylen provided a "positive and passionate voice" to peers and leaders of the program.
"Jaylen's efforts have deservingly earnt her the Young Citizen of the Year award for the noteworthy effort she placed into the Western Bulldogs Youth Leadership Program," he said.
In 2021 Jaylen also created the Ararat Youth Group with two other participants from the leadership program.
Jaylen said it was "pretty awesome" to be recognised for her achievements throughout 2021.
"Especially in a small town, usually you don't get recognised for what you have done," she said.
"The Western Bulldogs program allowed me to learn different topics, which helped me widen my knowledge.
"Through the youth group I got to directly communicate with the council and discuss what we thought was important as a young person in our community."
Jaylen's mother, Beck Stephens, said she was "really proud" her daughter could win the award.
"She really stuck her teeth into the program and really has shown amazing leadership skills with what she has done," she said.
"The maturity we have seen her grow in herself has been phenomenal."
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