“Un-Block The Music” is a big believer in giving “creative” kids a chance to use their talents for the greater community good. The Prudential Spirit Of Community Awards is a middle school and high school award that honors volunteer service.
Students in grades 5-12 are invited to apply for 2020 Award if they have made meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service within the past 12 months. The application is available at: http://spirit.prudential.com and www.nassp.org/spirit.
On February 4, 2020, the top middle level and high school volunteer from each state and the District of Columbia will be named State Honorees. They will receive a $1,000 scholarship, engraved silver medallions and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., with a parent or guardian for four days of recognition events from May 2-5, 2020.
In Washington, a distinguished national selection committee will name 10 of the 102 State Honorees as America’s top youth volunteers of the year. These National Honorees will receive additional $5,000 scholarships, gold medallions, crystal trophies for their nominating schools or organizations, and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.
If you are scratching your head about how this relates to music, here are a few of the winners from past years.
Kayla McKinney, 18, of Princeton, W.Va., a senior at McKinney Homeschool, has performed her own songs and shared her struggle with bullying at schools, after-school programs and community centers in numerous cities over the past three years, imparting messages of kindness, hope and empowerment to more than 25,000 young people. “In middle school, I was bullied, made fun of, and couldn’t understand why others didn’t like me,” said Kayla. “I started experiencing severe depression and anxiety.” But after a classmate took his own life because of bullying, Kayla wrote a song in his honor and discovered that music could help her heal from her own painful experiences and inspire others as well.
Kaleb Cook, 18, of Robins, Iowa, a senior at Linn-Mar High School, created an organization that facilitates inclusive dance therapy for people with special needs, and has raised thousands of dollars for a year-round camp for people with disabilities. After a girl with Down syndrome became Kaleb’s best friend in kindergarten, he began to notice that “people were treating her differently because of her disability,” he said. But “our friendship allowed me to learn that we were more alike than different. This opened my eyes to a whole world full of social issues surrounding the population that has special needs.”
Malcolm Asher, 16, of Portland, Ore., a junior at Cleveland High School, founded a nonprofit organization that is helping hospitalized youth on four continents make and share art, to alleviate the fear and anxiety that kids often experience in the hospital. While volunteering at a children’s hospital in Portland, Malcolm said that he “discovered how isolating and naturally scary it was” for the young patients. He also saw a 7-year-old girl draw a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge and share it with other patients. “I could plainly see what a lift this provided to kids who were feeling anxious and scared,” said Malcolm. “It was incredible to see the impact it had on both sides.”
Gabbie Lundberg, 11, of South Jordan, Utah, a sixth-grader at North Star Academy, organized a day camp in her basement for children in her neighborhood in order to raise money for refugees in Utah. An idea came to her in the middle of the night. She could combine her love of children with her desire to assist refugees by hosting a daycare event and then donating the proceeds. The next day, Gabbie began making a flier to advertise her “Camp Awesome” for kids 4 to 7 years old. She distributed it around her neighborhood, tidied up her basement, and gathered toys, games and music. Soon her phone started ringing with calls from parents wanting to enroll their children. “I had a whopping 38 kids who wanted to come to camp!” Gabbie said. Realizing that that was too many kids for one person to handle, she recruited a friend to help supervise. The camp featured dancing, singing, game-playing and other fun activities. Camp Awesome raised almost $200, which Gabbie donated to a Utah organization that supports refugee families. She plans to hold her camp again this summer.