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Youth group hosting career carnival Saturday in Newmarket

Keynote speaker Andrew Kooger will share his story of resilience and career success after overcoming a life-altering injury

Choosing a career can be difficult but a local youth-led organization hopes to provide more clarity for students.

The Central York Leadership Group is hosting a career carnival Saturday at the Town of Newmarket Municipal Offices to give students the chance to talk to career professionals about what they do and how they got there. 

“A lot of people my age were pretty unsure about what we want to do in the future and what paths are open for us, and the best way you can learn about all these different career fields and experiences involved would be to get to speak to some of these career professionals in person,” said Jessica Sun, president of youth group.

The event, which takes place April 20 from 1 to 4 p.m. at 395 Mulock Dr., will feature professionals in medicine, engineering, law, technology and more.

At 1:15 p.m., keynote speaker Andrew Kooger will discuss how he overcame challenges in his life and how he didn't let them stop him from pursuing his goals and dreams. He owns his own fitness and supplement business, Maximus Athletics, is an adaptive athlete, and works in finance.

“The talk I’m giving is about taking control of your life and regardless of your circumstances, you define the outcome of your life,” said Kooger.

Kooger was competing in downhill mountain biking when he suffered a life-altering accident in 2020 that left him paralyzed. Powered by resilience and determination, he defied the odds to compete in adaptive mountain biking. He mentors others by sharing his story and journey through adversity as he builds his life with intention and design.

He had multiple brain bleeds, fractures in his neck, crushed esophagus, bruised lungs, broken ribs, and shattered bone fragments in his spine cord. It took paramedics two hours to retrieve him and take him to Sunnybrook Hospital. 

“I felt obligated to showcase that you are in full control of the outcome of your life and you might not control what happens to you, but you definitely control your reaction to it,” said Kooger. "I pushed through and chose to do that every single day.”

The group decided to incorporate a carnival theme and provide games, prizes, popcorn, cookies, and other food. The event is supported by The Awesome Foundation and the Optimist Club of Newmarket.

“Snacks will be sold and we will have a variety of carnival-themed games that people can play,” said Sun. “It will be very much like a carnival in the aspect that they can play these games, win tickets, and then get prizes at a little prize shop that will be set up. There will be a raffle draw.”

The student group was formed in 2018 to mentor students 13 years of age to 18. They meet throughout the school year, engaging with communities in York Region, volunteering, supporting local charities, and holding events to empower and engage youth.