Being the best you

There was never any way that losing a limb would keep Mark Arendz from doing great things with his life.

When he was seven, the Prince Edward Island native was hanging around while his farther worked with a corn auger. The young boy tried to put some corn into the heavy machinery, and lost his balance. “I shot my arms forward,” he says. “With that motion, my arm got stuck between the blades. Within a second it had my arm up to the shoulder.”

Community spirit

He joined cadets when he became a teenager, and it was there that he learned about what the Award had to offer. Already an avid volunteer and a busy athlete, Mark sensed the Award programme would give him a chance to give even more to his community.

As he thought about how best to use his volunteer time, it occurred to him that his experience as an amputee may help him teach others about farm safety. “With losing my arm, I realised I could tell my story,” he says. “People find it touching, I guess. It’s a much better presentation that someone just telling you to be careful around farm machinery. People are more interested because I’m telling my story.”

Time management

He had earned his Gold Award by the time he turned 17, but missed his first opportunity to collect the hardware because he was in Finland, competing as a member of Canada’s para-nordic ski team. Throw in schooling and volunteer work, and his time has always been a precious commodity. Fortunately, participating in the Award did wonders for his time management skills.

“There’s so much to do,” he says. “But it all comes together, and the Award really helped me learn how to keep it in balance.”

Although he’s completed the Award programme, he still hopes to help others as they attempt to earn a Gold Award of their own.

“I definitely recommend it to others, it’s such a great programme,” he says. “It’s a programme where you can do whatever you want with your time. The most valuable thing is just getting out in your community and being active at just about everything. It’s all about trying to be the best person you can be for your community and for yourself.”

This story has been reproduced courtesy of The Globe and Mail, Canada.