Nanaimo student a finalist for national award

NANAIMO – At age 17, Kennedy Baker has already overcome some life-altering challenges – and moved on to support others.

At age 17, Kennedy Baker has already overcome some life-altering challenges – and moved on to support others.

Two years ago, the Dover Bay Secondary School senior’s life as she knew it fell apart.

Shortly after hearing that her mother had been sexually assaulted, Baker was diagnosed at 15 with lumps in both breasts and underwent surgery to remove them – she later learned the lumps were not cancerous.

A week or two after her surgery, Baker was out for a run near her home in the north end of town when a man driving by wearing a Halloween mask shot at her.

Then she learned that her estranged father had passed away from alcohol addiction.

At first, she thought she was fine, but as the weeks went by, she started to fear things.

Upset about her father’s death, a man she didn’t know, Baker began to worry about losing her mother and grandparents, people she cared deeply about. Life had suddenly become very fragile.

“I started to withdraw, I started to stay home more,” said Baker. “I started to lose a lot of weight. Things like writing a test became a really big deal.”

In February 2011, she was admitted to B.C. Children’s Hospital, weighing about 90 pounds on her 5’8″ frame, and during her 12-week stay, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and general anxiety disorder.

“I was seeing psychiatrists, psychologists, all sorts of doctors,” said Baker.

But when she returned home, her troubles weren’t over.

Before her hospital stay, Baker was well-liked and popular at school, but after, she found herself friendless and the target of bullies.

“When I came back, all my friends had moved on and I was crazy, mental girl,” she said. “I ended up eating lunch alone. It was definitely not easy for other people to understand. I don’t know if I really expect people to understand.”

To deal, she kept herself busy, joining student council and becoming co-president of her school’s Me to We club, through which she helped raise $11,000 to build a school in India.

In the summer of 2012, she started volunteering at the Nanaimo 7-10 Club Society, where she realized how judged and misunderstood the people served by the society are and felt a connection to them based on her own experiences.

Last September, she started her own non-profit organization, STAND (Strength, Togetherness, Action, Non-Judgmental, and Determination).

STAND held a food drive in October that provided 60 families with bags of non-perishable goods, hosted a benefit concert in February that raised $1,600, and handed out food and hot beverages to the homeless and less fortunate in Maffeo Sutton Park in April, feeding more than 150 people.

Next up is a benefit concert tomorrow (May 31) from 5-9 p.m. at Fibber Magees, proceeds of which will go to a summer picnic. For more information, please go to

Baker’s latest accomplishment is being selected as one of three finalists for a national Me to We award in the community category. The Me to We Awards, sponsored by Canadian Living and AOL/Huffington Post Impact Canada, shine the spotlight on Canadians making a difference in communities and abroad.

If Baker wins, she receives $5,000 to donate to the charity of her choice – the 7-10 Club, where she continues to volunteer two or three times a week.

But to win, she needs community support, as the winner is determined through online votes at Voting ends Saturday (June 1).

Baker said the money would go a long way towards helping to feed people who use the club’s services.

Just Posted

Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Tenth Street near Southside Drive on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver OK after crashing vehicle off the side of Nanaimo’s Tenth Street

Crews say wet roads a factor a crash Sunday, June 13

Nanaimo RCMP had been asking for help locating a 43-year-old man whose family was ‘extremely worried.’ (Submitted photo)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP report man who had made ‘troubling’ comments has been found

43-year-old is receiving treatment he requires, say police

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

An event on the lawn of the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Tuesday to remember the 215 children whose remains were confirmed buried in unmarked graves outside a Kamloops residential school. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Canada’s racist systems cannot ever be forgiven

Teen letter writer from Nunavut calls for truth and reconciliation

Nanaimo is the first city in Canada to subscribe to the Chonolog environment photo-monitoring system, which allow residents to contribute photos of habitat restoration projects that are converted to time lapse sequences showing environmental changes. (Chris Bush/ News Bulletin)
Nanaimo residents invited to be citizen scientists by sharing habitat restoration photos

Nanaimo first city in Canada to sign up for Chronolog environment photo monitoring service

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

City of Nanaimo council has approved amendments for an animal control bylaw requested by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. The bylaw includes language related to quail. (Wikipedia Commons photo)
Province asks for tweaks to Nanaimo’s animal responsibility bylaw

Ministry concerned bylaw wording could create municipal and provincial jurisdictional overlaps

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo hospital district seeks help from other districts for $1-billion project

Funding for Nanaimo Regional General Hospital patient tower discussed by committee

Stuffed toys, many with donations pinned to them, are piled in the Lions Pavilion at Maffeo Sutton Park at a vigil May 31 honouring the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were discovered outside a residential school in Kamloops. (News Bulletin file photo)
Thousands donated to child and family service agency following Nanaimo vigil

Toys and money donated to Kw’umut Lelum child and family services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Most Read