SALEM, Ore., Feb. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Malcolm Asher, 16 and Irie Page, 14, both of Portland, today were named Oregon's top two youth volunteers of 2018 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Malcolm and Irie each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in late April to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2018.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 23rd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
These are Oregon's top youth volunteers of 2018:
High School State Honoree: Malcolm Asher
Nominated by Cleveland High School in Portland
Malcolm, 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."
As a result, Malcolm decided he wanted to volunteer for an organization that promoted the sharing of art among hospital patients, but couldn't find one. So, he launched his own and called it "ArtPass." He sought advice from other teenagers who had started nonprofits, met with healthcare providers and child life specialists, created a website, recruited a team of Portland teens to help, and sought financial support. Once up and running, Malcolm's organization began providing art kits to hospitalized children who requested them, and then matching those kids with other patients in the same hospital to exchange artwork. ArtPass is now operating in 18 locations in the U.S., Europe, Japan and Ghana. Malcolm also is working on a campaign to spread awareness of the conditions faced by hospitalized youth in developing countries.
Middle Level State Honoree: Irie Page
Nominated by Micha-El School in Milwaukie
Irie, an eighth-grader at Micha-El School, organized a free public educational event that presented information about safe dating to hundreds of young people and their parents. Irie was inspired to do something important for her 14th birthday after hearing a speech by Nobel Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai. "She said 'everyone's voice matters,' and that really stayed with me," said Irie. Having heard about a nationally-recognized author and educator who speaks about sexual violence and the importance of consent, Irie decided to invite him to an event that she would host.
She raised money for the author's speaking fee by setting up a GoFundMe account and soliciting sponsorships from local businesses. Then she persuaded Portland State University to let her use a recital hall; reached out for information from the police department, the district attorney's office and sexual assault crisis centers; and publicized her event by giving interviews to local news media. Approximately 500 teens and adults attended Irie's event in November. The author was so impressed with her efforts that he waived his fee, enabling Irie to donate the funds instead to local organizations working to prevent sexual violence. "I believe that to create change you have to start with education," she said.
The program judges also recognized four other Oregon students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Oregon's Distinguished Finalists for 2018:
Abigail Alvarez, 17, of Portland, Ore., a senior at David Douglas High School, started "All Peers United," a program that coordinates opportunities for students with and without disabilities to work together on service projects. Inspired to advocate for kids she mentored in her school's special ed program, Abigail applied for grants, worked with teachers and local organizations and ensured special after-school transportation to bring her idea for the club to life.
Cameron Monfared, 16, of Beaverton, Ore., a junior at Beaverton High School, dedicates 10-15 hours a week to improving his community through a variety of projects, ranging from serving on his mayor's youth board and the city human rights commission to starting a school initiative to end human trafficking. Cameron also spent five years mentoring children from low-income neighborhoods, and has worked to help the homeless by volunteering with Family Promise of Beaverton and leading a school club.
Shayla Montgomery, 16, of Milwaukie, Ore., a sophomore at Clackamas Middle College, has reached thousands of people with messages about recognizing and resolving bullying with "#STANDUP," an awareness-raising campaign inspired by her own experience being bullied. In addition to her campaign, which has involved social media outreach and school presentations, Shayla has also been an active volunteer with the anti-bullying initiative Continue to Find Kindness.
Colten Wright, 14, of Merrill, Ore., a freshman at Lost River Junior and Senior High, is a self-taught auctioneer who has volunteered his services for a number of charity fundraisers, providing auctioneering and logistical support for events with up to 2,500 people and helping to bring in donations ranging from $750 to more than $50,000. Colten's volunteering benefited causes including an American Legion post, scholarship funds and a local student paralyzed in an ATV accident.
"Prudential is proud to recognize these remarkable young people for using their energy, creativity and compassion to bring meaningful change to their communities," said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. "We hope their stories inspire others to consider how they can do the same."
"These middle level and high school students have not only improved the lives of the people and communities they've served – they also set an important example for their peers," said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. "These honorees prove that you're never too young to make a difference."
About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States' largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of Points of Light's HandsOn Network, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. These Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.
While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – will tour the capital's landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other parts of the world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. On April 30, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2018. These National Honorees will receive additional $5,000 awards, gold medallions, crystal trophies and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.
Since the program began in 1995, more than 120,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, India, China, Brazil and Poland. In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also distributes President's Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local Honorees.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Student Council. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit www.nassp.org.
About Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential's diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential's iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit www.news.prudential.com.
For Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallion graphics, please visit https://spirit.prudential.com/resources/media
SOURCE Prudential Financial, Inc.