NEW YORK, Oct. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Scholastic Media, a division of Scholastic Inc., the global children's publishing, education and media company, and HandsOn Network, the volunteer activation division of Points of Light and largest volunteer network in the nation, announced today the winners of its fifth annual 'BE BIG In Your Community Contest,' a signature program of the ongoing Clifford The Big Red Dog® BE BIG!™ campaign, which invites everyone to take action and raise awareness for how Clifford's BIG Ideas (Share, Help Others, Be Kind, Be Responsible, Play Fair, Be a Good Friend, Believe in Yourself, Have Respect, Work Together and Be Truthful) can make the world a better place. The national contest invited participants to submit a BIG idea that demonstrates Clifford's Big Ideas for a chance to win a community grant to be used toward implementing the winning proposals. Since its inception in 2009, the contest has generated over 4,200 BIG ideas from more than 100,000 children, parents, teachers and community leaders, and has awarded over $200,000 in grants to bring these BIG ideas to life.
Karrie Marciniak from Bay City, Michigan was selected as the grand prize winner for her BIG idea to implement a program in her school called 'Paws for a Book: Readers Rock.' Marciniak's idea has been awarded with a $5,000 grant from the BE BIG Fund to help support the program.
The program will engage students in grades K-5 in a continuous service project through the introduction of service dogs into the classroom. The students and dogs will take a variety of fieldtrips to homes for the elderly to read to and visit with the residents. Marciniak's goal for the program is to help children become more confident, accurate and fluent readers – given the service dogs are such non-judgmental and patient listeners! By teaming up with a local service dog organization, she hopes that the children's reading skills and overall confidence will be strengthened, and that the service dogs will have a positive impact on the school and community.
"Clifford the Big Red Dog has been delighting and inspiring young children for more than 50 years – so it's fitting that his 'Big Ideas' inspired Karrie to meet a unique need in her community to encourage a love of reading through service dogs," said Deborah Forte, President of Scholastic Media and Executive Vice President of Scholastic Inc. "Scholastic is proud that the BE BIG program continues to engage young people across the country to improve the lives of others – and we're proud of Karrie and her impact in the community."
"You're never too young to learn how to use your time and talent to change the world," said Tracy Hoover, president Points of Light, the world's largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. "When that message comes from a character as beloved as Clifford the Big Red Dog, it goes a long way toward engaging the natural creativity and energy children bring to volunteerism. We're grateful to Scholastic for its commitment to kids, reading and service."
Five additional contest entries were selected as first-place prize winners; each idea will be awarded a $1,000 community grant. The five first place prize winners are:
- Liliana Grijalva, 30, of Phoenix, AZ and her team will implement her BIG idea of 'Project Green Power.' The team's Big idea is to involve students in a multi-disciplinary project aimed at developing a sense of responsibility for the planet. Focusing on three phases – reduce, reuse and recycle – children will learn the importance of preservation in their community.
- Caroline Ill, 30, of Jacob, IL will create a community 'Book Exchange' at her school to encourage children to read and socialize with their classmates. Her school is located in a small, rural area where there is no public library. Students will be asked to bring a gently used book that they've finished reading to the book exchange and will pass on and exchange their book for one that another student will bring.
- Gabrielle P., 16, of Encinitas, CA and her team, will expand their BIG idea of a 'Food Rescue' program. Her BIG idea is to change the paradigm of commercial food waste and inspire kids to usher in the next generation of recycling. By putting a 'Donate Don't Dump' logo on excess food items, Gabrielle hopes to reduce the amount of food waste and help to feed hungry families.
- Athena S., 15, of Brooklyn, NY will develop an idea called "PJ's for Patients." The program would supply new and gently used pajamas to hospital children, hoping to make their experience more comforting and fun.
- Andy Yung, 26, of Flushing, NY will start a monthly 'Family Center Night' at his local school, aiming to bring families together to interact and become more involved in school activities. In hopes of bringing a feeling of closeness to the very diverse community of Flushing, families would be encouraged to come and play games, interact with other families and become more involved in the school and their neighborhood.
The winning BIG Ideas were selected by a panel of judges based on four criteria: feasibility, creativity, sustainability and impact. A complete list of winners, and profiles about their BIG ideas, can be found at www.scholastic.com/cliffordbebig/contest.
The Clifford BE BIG campaign invites everyone to take action and raise awareness for how Clifford's BIG Ideas can make the world a better place. Its mission is to recognize and reward others for their BIG actions, to catalyze change in local communities, and to provide resources for everyone to share BIG ideas. Clifford's Big Ideas came out of the curriculum developed for the award-winning animated television series Clifford the Big Red Dog, based on the books by Norman Bridwell, and airs on PBS KIDS® (check local listings). Since the first Clifford book was published in 1963, the property has expanded to include 126 million books in print and remains a literary classic embraced by parents, teachers and kids.
For information about Clifford – please visit www.scholastic.com/clifford, www.facebook.com/officialclifford or Scholastic's media room at http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/clifford. For more information about the PBS KIDS series, please visit pbs.org/pressroom.
SOURCE Scholastic Media