Pictured above: Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps congratulates Katie Eder, 17, (center) and Julianna Bauknecht, 11, (right) on being named Wisconsin's top two youth volunteers for 2017 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
Shorewood High School Junior Katie Eder was recently named one of America's top 10 youth volunteers of 2017 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards during the program's 22nd annual national award ceremony at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington D.C. on May 8. Selected from a field of more than 31,000 youth volunteers from across the country, Katie has earned the title of National Honoree, along with a personal award of $5,000, an engraved gold medallion, a crystal trophy for her school, and a $5,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation for a nonprofit charitable organization of her choice.
Also honored this week in Washington, D.C., was Julianna Bauknecht, 11, of Bryant, Wis. Katie and Julianna were named Wisconsin's top youth volunteers in February, and were officially recognized on May 7 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History along with the top two youth volunteers in each other state and the District of Columbia. At that event, each of the 102 State Honorees for 2017 received $1,000 awards as well as personal congratulations from Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps. The honorees each also received engraved silver medallions and all-expense-paid trips with a parent to Washington, D.C., for this week's recognition events.
Katie, a junior at Shorewood High School, developed a creative writing workshop for children in need that is now being taught by 120 teens in seven states and five other countries. Three years ago, Katie took a writing workshop that "changed my life," she said. It occurred to her that many kids, particularly those in underserved communities, have few opportunities to write creatively. "I knew I could either sit back and do nothing, or find a way for more kids to find their voice through writing," Katie said. So she decided to create "Kids Tales."
After designing a curriculum for kids 8 to 12 years old, Katie conducted her first two weeklong workshops during the summer of 2014 at a school and youth center. She helped 18 children brainstorm ideas for short stories, write rough drafts, and then edit their stories. At the end, she gathered the stories, published them as an anthology on Amazon and presented each student with a paper copy. The first workshops were so successful that Katie was soon training other teens who wanted to teach them. Last summer, 97 teen teachers conducted workshops for nearly 400 kids both in the U.S. and abroad, and Kids Tales published 22 anthologies. As executive director of the Kids Tales nonprofit organization, Katie recruits and trains teachers, raises funds, maintains a website and coordinates publishing activity – in addition to conducting her own workshops. Katie hopes to double the size of her organization this year.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is a national youth recognition program sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
"These honorees have done exemplary work to contribute to the health and vitality of their communities, and we look forward to seeing the great things they achieve in the future," said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. "Congratulations to each of these extraordinary young volunteers."
"It's a privilege to celebrate these students not only for outstanding volunteer service, but for the example they've set for their peers," said Jayne Ellspermann, president of NASSP. "These honorees prove that one person truly can make a difference."
The distinguished selection committee that chose the National Honorees was chaired by Strangfeld and included Ellspermann of NASSP; Andrea Bastiani Archibald, chief girl expert for Girl Scouts of the USA; Kristofer Bolz with the national headquarters volunteer services team at the American Red Cross; Tracy Hoover, president of Points of Light; Peggy McLeod, deputy vice president of education and workforce development at the National Council of La Raza; Frederick J. Riley, national director of urban and youth development at YMCA of the USA; Linda Shiller, at-large member on the National PTA Board of Directors; Rhonda Taylor, acting deputy director of strategic communications and director of partnerships and program engagement for the Corporation for National and Community Service; Dru Tomlin, director of middle level services for the Association for Middle Level Education; and two 2016 National Honorees: Connor Archer, a freshman at Husson University in Bangor, Maine, and Alisha Zhao, a senior at Lincoln High School in Portland, Ore.
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2017 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the HandsOn Network.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service – and, in so doing, inspire others to volunteer, too. In the past 22 years, the program has honored more than 120,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
For more information about The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and this year's honorees, visit http://spirit.prudential.comor www.nassp.org/spirit.
*Text/picture above taken from PR Newswire press release.