Lee Martin, 17, of Barrie, has been selected as one of 12 Junior Citizens of the Year by the Ontario Community Newspapers Association (OCNA).

Lee was nominated by her mother Jeannie after she read about the Junior Citizen awards program through the Barrie Advance, a member of the OCNA.

It takes a strong person to speak out about mental illness, especially to teenage peers. Lee knew sharing her experiences could help others, and she was right.

With a small Dare to Dream Foundation grant, she formed Stop the Silence and has been speaking at high schools about how mental illness has affected her life and ways to overcome it. She is also involved in advocacy and working with young people with different disabilities.

The recipients of the 2007 Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards represent a cross section of Ontario’s youth who are committed to bettering themselves and their communities through their selfless acts of service. Their stories are inspiring and demonstrate leadership and compassion for others.

Rick Shaver, president of the OCNA, said he is proud to be a part of the Junior Citizens Awards.

“These young people are our leaders of tomorrow. They exemplify the traits we all aspire to and have the ability to inspire and motivate those around them. As community newspapers, we are thrilled to be able to recognize their achievements at this level.”

The Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards are run through the 324 member newspapers of OCNA with the support of sponsor TD Canada Trust. Nominations of eligible youth are received each fall through member community newspapers committed to recognizing outstanding youth who are making a difference in their communities.

A panel of volunteer judges must unanimously decide on the final recipients.

This year, there were 120 nominees from across Ontario, who were recognized with certificates of recognition by their local community newspaper. The 12 final recipients will be honoured at a ceremony in Toronto this spring.

CMHO'S 2016 ANNUAL REPORT CARD: CHILD & YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH