Trees a way to honour Canada's fallen soldiers

Brookswood's Michael Pratt helped create Langley Youth for the Fallen. The initiative will see trees planted at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum for every Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan.
— image credit: Gary Ahuja/Langley Times

The way Michael Pratt sees it, “everybody should feel like they belong to something, whether it is a sports team, a community or something else.”

“I just feel if somebody as young as I can do something for the community, then maybe it can encourage others to feel the same way,” he said.

And while he may be just 14, Pratt is well beyond his years in terms of his community efforts.

Along with his sister, Elizabeth, Pratt came up with Langley Youth for the Fallen, a non-profit organization which is creating a grove of 158 trees at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum. Called a Walk to Remember, the unique memorial honours every fallen Canadian soldier in Afghanistan.

The siblings were also nominated for the Township’s John and Muriel Arnason Award.

The idea for the trees came from a trip to France two years ago, when Pratt visited Juno Beach and saw a memorial for soldiers who died during the Second World War.

“I wanted to commemorate the soldiers who died in my lifetime in a way that resembled that,” Pratt said. “I brought the idea home and roped my sister into it.”

The Grade 9 student at Brookswood Secondary is also active with the school’s athletic teams as a member of the basketball, soccer, track and field and cross-country teams.

He also plays club basketball.

In addition, he is a school leader.

The honour roll student — with a 94 per cent average — won the French Immersion public speaking award, the Physical Education student of the year award and was named co-winner of the outstanding male athlete of the year among Grade 8s.

He also helps Grade 8 students in their transition from elementary to high school.

“At my school, there is a big emphasis on being leaders, helping students along in their time at Brookswood,” Pratt said.

As for juggling all his extracurricular activities, Pratt says that is not a problem.

“Growing up, my parents have always told me to manage my time wisely, so I try and set priorities,” he explained.

“Once I get something done, I try and see how I can enrich my life and see how I can do my best in everything that I can do.”

He was one of the seven nominees for the Township of Langley's Pete Swensson outstanding community youth award.

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