Kids! of the Month
is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of
we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing things.
We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire other kids
to accomplish their own amazing achievements.
Kids! of the Month for January, 1999:
Spirit of Community Award Winners!
Spirit of Community Awards logo
This month we highlight the
achievements of young people from
across the United States.
Some Amazing Youth Dedicated to Community Service...
Happy New Year to all!
To ring in the New Year, this month Amazing
Kids! is celebrating
the amazing community service accomplishments of young people across the
United States! These dedicated youth have have been hard at work
trying to make the world a better place through their community service
Kids! of the Month for January, 1999 are the winners of a very
special community service award given to them by Prudential.
Each year, Prudential honors young people who are doing exceptional work
in their communities. Called the "Spirit of Community" award, the
purpose of the award is to get young people excited about helping improve
The 1998 Prudential
Spirit of Community Award National Winners
The "Spirit of Community" award is
part of Prudential's "Spirit
of Community Initiative" programs. The goals of these special
programs are to:
You can learn more about the Prudential
Spirit of Community Initiative programs by visiting the Prudential website.
Simply click on the program titles below to visit the Prudential website
and read about the programs.
create visible role models for young
people by recognizing exemplary community service by middle-school and
high-school students across the United States
help young Americans learn how they can
make worthwhile contributions to their communities, through training materials
and education programs
promote greater public attention to the
issue of community service by young people, and ways to encourage it
Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Winners
Prudential selected ten young Americans
to receive the 1998 Prudential Spirit of Community Award, for their outstanding
accomplishments in self-initiated community service.
These amazing young people
were chosen from a group of more than 11,000 student volunteers throughout
the United States! Below is a list of the winners, along with their
very special stories, reprinted with the permission of Prudential.
Harris, 18, of Arapaho High School in Arapaho, Oklahomahas
worked tirelessly since he was only 9 years old to preserve natural resources
and educate others about the need for environmental resuscitation."
His broad-based conservation campaign,
which he calls "Environmental CPR" (Conserve, Preserve, Reserve), grew
from his love of the land and his frustration with the widespread perception
that natural resources are not endangered. "We have opened a Pandora's
Box releasing erosion, pollution and a 'throw away' mentality," says Mike.
"That is not the legacy I want to leave my children."
His efforts started with recycling
projects to collect aluminum and plastic. As Mike’s ideas grew, he secured
endorsements from local officials and began recycling Christmas trees,
telephone books, greeting cards, and clothing, often with area businesses,
schools and government agencies serving as collection sites. In addition,
he has presented educational programs
to students and community groups, and promoted conservation awareness through
newspaper articles, radio public service announcements, a recycling calendar
and a newsletter. Mike estimates that nearly 470,000 people have been reached
with his message of environmental conservation, and over 22,000 pounds
of landfill items have been recycled.
18, of Parkview High School in Orfordville, Wisconsin says she
wasted nearly three years of her life hooked on drugs and running away
from home. When she finally recovered, Jenny decided that her experience
could help others resist the temptation of drugs. Working with her mother
and drawing on her actual experiences, she began delivering dramatic presentations
and motivational speeches on the dangers of substance abuse when she was
More recently, she scripted a four-act
reenactment called "Jenny — A Day inhe Life of a Teenage Addict,"which
she presents to schools, youth conferences, treatment facilities and community
groups in cooperation with the Wisconsin Association of Runaway Services.
Jenny coordinates most of the logistics herself, from the writing of the
script to securing props, distributing press materials, scheduling performances,
and soliciting funds. Her presentations have elicited strong response from
audiences, and she is now planning to expand her effort by putting together
an entire troupe of former teenage addicts. "I learned that even I, who
had once taken so much from the people I care about and from my community,
could be a positive and productive citizen," Jenny says.
17, of J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas created
a youth volunteer organization that has performed close to 100 community
service projects over the past two years in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
Her group, "Giving and Learning Our Way (GLOW) Youth Volunteers," has more
than 250 teen members who participate in projects that Becca schedules
throughout the year. "I felt many kids would welcome the chance to be part
of a group having a good time while doing things of value for themselves
and for others," she says. More than 55 non-profit organizations have benefited
GLOW's volunteer work, including
hospitals, shelters and food banks.
The group maintains regular volunteer
commitments with Children's Hospital and The Ronald McDonald House, a local
women’s shelter thrift shop, and area homeless facilities. Becca recently
received a state charter for GLOW Youth Volunteers and arranged for the
group’s non-profit status. Now, her focus will be to train the members
in raising funds to build GLOW's budget and therefore provide even more
community outreach. "I have learned that there are many children and adults
in the world who need help, and that there are many good teenagers who
are very happy to provide that help," said Becca, who
hopes to expand GLOW's reach to other
Lyons, 17, of Hopkins School in New Haven, Connecticut founded
and now presides over the Scoliosis Association of Connecticut, a support
and information network for individuals afflicted with the curved-spine
disorder and their families.
At the age of 14, after years of studying
ballet, Brooke was diagnosed with scoliosis and had to wear a body brace
for 18 hours each day to improve her condition. Her search for information
and support led only to frustration when she realized that there was no
support group for scoliosis patients in her state. Brooke, determined to
make the path easier for others than it was for her, worked with the National
Scoliosis Association to develop a Connecticut chapter, which now includes
100 members. Brooke schedules meetings, secures guest speakers, reaches
out to the community, handles media relations, educates school nurses on
the importance of scoliosis screenings, and staffs a toll-free support
She recently coordinated – and danced
in – a performance of The Nutcracker Ballet, which raised $10,000 to benefit
scoliosis research. The National Scoliosis Association has named Brooke
its National Teen Spokesperson, and she will travel across the country
to speak to teens about dealing with the illness. "The stories I've heard,
the lives that I have touched, and the changes I have made all have left
permanent imprints in my mind and in my heart," said Brooke.
16, of Mission Viejo High School in Mission Viejo, California
is the founder and CEO of Kids Konnected, a non-profit organization that
provides friendship, education and support for kids who have a parent with
cancer. Jon established the organization when he was only 11 years old
after searching desperately for support to cope with his mother’s cancer
"There were no groups where I could
talk to other kids who knew what it was like to have a real sick mom,"
Jon explains, so he created his own.
Jon secured a grant in 1993 to operate
a 24-hour hot line from his home, which soon led to the creation
of regular support groups, and by 1997, Kids Konnected was incorporated
as a non-profit organization with 18 chapters in 12 states. Jon has raised
over $400,000 to fund Kids Konnected programs, which include a summer camp,
an Internet website, youth leadership training, grief workshops, and other
cancer related services – all offered free of charge.
Jon has begun to train a young member
of the board of directors to take over as CEO when he leaves for college.
"It's real important to continue Kids Konnected as a corporation that is
run by kids, for kids," says Jon.
13, a home-schooled student from Hickory, North Carolina, founded
"Suitcases For Kids," a program that collects and distributes used suitcases
for children in foster care. When she discovered that the belongings of
kids being moved from one foster home to another are usually placed in
trash bags, Aubyn was surprised and upset. "I thought, 'That is horrible.
These children must feel like garbage!'" So she dedicated herself to ensuring
that every child in foster care would have a suitcase of his or her own.
By getting the word out through local
newspapers and in her Girl Scouts and 4-H newsletters, Aubyn started small.
The donations and the message grew, and soon Aubyn was speaking at state-wide
conferences on her program, and passing out starter kits for other groups
to launch Suitcases for Kids programs in their areas. Because nearly 4,500
suitcases have been donated so far, Aubyn is now enlisting support from
trucking companies to transport the excess to areas in need.
"Suitcases for Kids has the unique
quality of being inspired by, organized by, and carried out by young people,
says Aubyn. Aubyn will soon introduce her project in 19 states across the
country and dreams that recycling luggage will one day become as common
as recycling newspaper, glass and plastic.
11, a home-schooled child from Newburgh, Indiana, created a
neighborhood newspaper "by kids and for kids" in memory of his grandmother
to raise money for the American Cancer Society and to spread the word that
one person can make a difference in the world.
"Besides earning money for a cure
for cancer, I wanted my paper to give kids a chance to see their stories
and drawings published because I thought this would build their self-esteem,"
With his parents' help, Jason wrote
and designed a prototype, knocked on doors and wrote countless letters
to solicit stories and sell subscriptions. Jason now has subscribers in
17 states and 3 foreign countries, and one of his articles – about
a cellist in Sarajevo – has become part of a full-fledged campaign to publicize
an inspirational example of individual heroism.
After writing about the cellist, who
courageously opposed the war in Bosnia through his music, Jason organized
a tribute concert by the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and is now working
to have statue of the cellist built and sent to the people of Bosnia, to
"tell the world that one person can make a difference."
Hiatt, 13, of McAuliffe Middle School in Los Alamitos, California,
was motivated to organize a fund-raising walk-a-thon in his town after
a friend died of cancer. Then, only two days after beginning his project,
Richie's little sister was diagnosed
"I was so scared, I thought she was
going to die," said Richie. With that added dose of inspiration, Richie
mobilized several Boy and Girl Scout Troops, his school and other local
organizations to help plan the walk-a-thon, and solicited pledges from
businesses and individuals throughout his community. Richie’s 7-year-old
sister, Laci, kicked off the walk and led 200 walkers to the music from
the movie, Rocky.
His initial goal of $1,000 was surpassed
when he collected nearly $15,000, which Richie then donated to the Children's
Cancer Center at the Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. The money he raised
is being used to help pay for important medications, check-ups, and transportation
to hospitals and clinics for patients who do not have cars.
"If you really believe in yourself
and your cause, others will too," says Richie.
14, of Baker Middle School in Columbus, Georgia, has dedicated
the past three years of his life to initiating and managing a Neighborhood
Advisory Committee that provides a variety of volunteer services in his
"I was surrounded by unsupervised
children playing around trash, people with problems, and a lack of hospitality
and spirit in the park," says "Jay." So he approached the park manager
for support and then started a monthly neighborhood clean-up. The success
of that campaign led to a food drive for needy families, a hospitality
get-together to improve community spirit, free tutorial services for younger
children living in the park, and a child-care service.
Although Jay’s efforts, which require
at least two hours of his time each day, have encouraged adults to become
more involved in their community, most of his volunteers are other concerned
"By reaching the children, I have
indirectly touched the adults," says Jay.
13, of Saint Rita School in Alexandria, Virginia conducted a
bone marrow donor drive for Hispanic members of her community to help increase
the very low percentage of minority-group members who
register with the National Bone Marrow
Registry. Laura learned about bone-marrow matching when her uncle was diagnosed
with leukemia and was told that a bone marrow transplant was his only hope.
She then read about about a Hispanic man in northern Virginia who needed
a transplant but was unable to find a match, due in part to the fact that
only a very small percentage of minorities register with the National Bone
Marrow Registry. Laura decided that a bone marrow donor drive held at an
area church with a large Hispanic congregation might improve the chances
for these people. She arranged yard sales, sold plants, and held a raffle
to raise more than $1,000 to support the marrow testing, and she secured
a matching grant from the National Institutes of Health to supplement her
initial donations. Nearly 100
people came out for the drive, and people were added to the National Registry.
Other Amazing Spirit of Community Winners!
|There are so many wonderful stories
about young people serving in their communities today! In addition
to the national winners, Prudential has named some amazing state
finalists and honorees for the award! You can read about the 1998
state winners and finalists by visiting the Prudential
Prudential will be announcing the
1999 Spirit of Community Award winners on February 4, so don't forget to
visit their website in February to find out who the 1999 winners are...one
of them could be you !!!
one of the amazing state finalists from California on the Christian
Science Monitor website:
12 year old Brandon
Keefe was one of the state finalists from California. In 1993,
when he was 8 years old, he started collecting books for a children's orphanage,
because they couldn't afford a library. Brandon got his whole school
involved, and collected 847 books for the orphanage library!
Since he first started back in 1993,
Brandon has collected and distributed over 10,000 books and has organized
11 book drives! He and his mother have started a non-profit organization
called "Book Ends" that will teach other kids about community service and
how it can really help make the world a better place for all of us.
Way to go, Brandon! Keep up
the good work!
To read more about Brandon and his
amazing community service work, visit the Christian Science Monitor website
What Do Young People Think
About Community Service?
Prudential recently commissioned an
interview of 1,000 young people about volunteering and community service.
Here are some of the questions they asked, and the answers they found:
Why are so many
students interested in serving their communities?
95 percent of those interviewed support
Almost two-thirds of those respondents
said that individual responsibility is the best way to solve community
Sixty-seven percent indicated that they
devote some of their time to volunteer
Because they want
make a difference
develop new skills
explore career paths
have fun working with friends
feel good about themselves
Special Message from Amazing Kids! for all you teens:
YOU CAN BE AN AMAZING
It's no secret...every person has
the potential to be amazing in their own way. Sometimes we just need
a little help in finding out what our special talents are!
If you are doing some amazing things
too, we want to hear about it! Send us your stories about your amazing
accomplishments, so we can tell the world just how amazing you are!
We are always looking for new stories. And don't be shy! We'd
love to hear from you!
Here's an idea you might want to
WHY NOT HELP
OTHERS SEE THEIR OWN POTENTIAL?
If you know someone who needs a little
encouragement, why not tell them what you think is special about them?
Maybe you can be the one to help them uncover their own special
Amazing Kids! is looking for teens
like you to be Amazing Teen Volunteers
and Ambassadors. If you'd like to join Amazing Kids! in helping
to spread the word, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
HELP US SPREAD
cool to be an Amazing Kid!
to the Amazing Kids! of the Month Index
Calling All Amazing
Kids! We Need Your Help!
If you are, or know any kids who are,
doing amazing things, we
want to hear about it!
Send us your stories, so we might
be able to feature you too someday! Please be patient, and
we will do our best to tell your story some day -- hopefully soon!
For more information
about Amazing Kids!, please
contact Alyse Rome, Executive Director, at: email@example.com.