The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards honors students in middle and high school for outstanding volunteer service to their communities.
102 Honorees and 234 Distinguished Finalists are from each state and the District of Columbia.
This years State Honorees includes students whose volunteer service was devoted to special needs. A few of these students are:
Hope Reis, 18, organized a day of downhill skiing for children with special needs. Visually impaired herself, Hope came up with the idea for “A Day on the Hill for Kids with Special Needs” when she was working with the local ski patrol to complete her Girl Scout Gold Award. “I wanted to give people with all different kinds of disabilities a chance to do something they did not think they would be able to do.” Seven children with disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to blindness arrived at the mountain for a day of fun on the ski slopes. “I would like to see this event happen every year, and hope that it will grow to include more participants each time,” she said.
Taytum Jones, 13, has been volunteering with students with disabilities since she was in third grade. She missed an hour of class every other day to work in the autistic room. “I thought that was the greatest thing,” she said. She helped them with sensory activities, worked on physical coordination skills and assisted with homework. Taytum also volunteered with an organization called “Dream Catchers” that teaches children with disabilities to play baseball. She continues to work with disabled students at her middle school by playing games and assisting with learning activities. Taytum wants to be a special education teacher when she grows up
Calista Pierce, 12, raised nearly $12,000 so local Special Olympics athletes can continue to take part in regional and state competitions, and more than $8,000 to grant wishes to two gravely ill children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She makes and sells crafts, hosts bake sales and organizes raffles and other fundraisers. She recruits family, friends and even Special Olympics athletes to help with her endeavors. In addition, Calista works as a Special Olympics volunteer.
Congratulations to these 3 outstanding students, and all the honorees, for their contributions to volunteering and making a difference in their communities.