April 20, 2024

Behind The Scenes With MACOY – How the Top 20 Under 20 program moved forward in 2020

By on October 15, 2020 0 611 Views

We had to do things differently this year – us, and the rest of the world.

When the announcements came in to shut down the economy because of COVID-19 in March 2020, the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Youth (MACOY)’s General Assembly (GA) had just finished selecting the recipients for YMM Parent’s Top 20 Under 20 for 2020.

Nicole Martyn-Dickinson, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s MACOY program lead and I were making our rounds of contacting the parents and nominators to send our congratulation announcements. But then, everything we had done in the past for our inaugural program had altered.

We were no longer able to book and facilitate the Interview Day, which is a day-long process of the recipients coming to the Fort McMurray International Airport for photos, videos and interviews with the MACOY’s GA and mentors in the media and other business professions.

On the publication side, I had to plan a deadline with no timeline and had no idea if that timeline would be accurate or to-date by the time we reached the deadline. (Yes, that sounds incredibly confusing – welcome 2020.)

We kept moving forward. The MACOY’s GA worked through the summer to help put it together. They conducted interviews with the recipients by video chat, phone and email and wrote stories based on my guidance and instructional notes. For many of them, the written profiles in this magazine are their debut published pieces, and some have helped out with other additional YMM Parent content.

I send a special thanks to all of them as they have reached incredible lengths to come to the publication’s production finish line. They also motivated me immensely and enlightened my passion for journalism, more than they may ever know.

If you’ve never worked with youth before, I encourage you to become a mentor. The results in learning go both ways. I teach and guide, as they do to me. By teaching them how to work as a journalist and use interview techniques and human-interest story methods, they’ve helped me become a better magazine editor. So, again, thank you, MACOY’s General Assembly, and to Nicole for granting me the opportunity to work with them.

As for our Top 20 Under 20, I am inspired and captivated by the young and talented individuals who live in our communities. If 2020 left you fearful for our future, read through the recipients’ story profiles. You will learn we have a lot of brilliant, caring, determined and wise individuals making our Wood Buffalo region a better place – our world a better place.

Some of their goals are to develop new technologies for cancer research and to become medical professionals for both people and animals. Others want to pursue positions in government. It’s astonishing to see the lists of recipients each year and learn more about the remarkable children and youth in our community.


MACOY Members of the General Assembly for 2019/2020:

  • Saakshi Arvikar
  • Zoe Faber
  • Krista Gomez
  • Brehanna Gour
  • Muneeb Ikram
  • Mia El Jamal
  • Monorama Joshi
  • Tanisha Kadia
  • Gloria Kannumkulabil
  • Kanisha Lala
  • Favour Oguntuase
  • Devki Patel
  • Lokesh Patel
  • Mira Patel
  • Shreeya Patel
  • Heet Shah
  • Krish Shah

YMM Parent and the MACOY General Assembly will have a nomination call for the next Top 20 Under 20 in January 2021. Please stay tuned on our social media platforms, and for questions, email me at dawn@balsom.ca.


Some of the 2018/2019 MACOY General Assembly members with the Top 20 Under 20 program leads at their inaugural launch celebration at the Fort McMurray International Airport in June 2019. Photo by Francine Ransome of Foto Source

About the author

Editor-in-Chief at | dawn@balsom.ca

Dawn Booth is the Editor-in-Chief of YMM Parent Magazine and Your McMurray Magazine. She has actively worked in the Wood Buffalo region's media industry since residing in Fort McMurray in 2007.

Her passion is writing poetry and puts it at the forefront of the community through her volunteer work as the President of NorthWord Magazine. Most important, Booth puts her family of five first, which includes her husband Ryan and their three children, Landon, Dawson and Tessa.