WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The District of Columbia's top two youth volunteers of 2016, Gavrielle Kamen, 17, and Amelia Myre, 13, were honored in the nation’s capital last night for their outstanding volunteer service during the 21st annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Gavrielle and Amelia – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), named Gavrielle and Amelia the District of Columbia's top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an invitation to four days of recognition events in Washington, D.C.
Gavrielle, a junior at Georgetown Day School, organizes weekly video-conferencing sessions at her school that bring together teens from the United States, Middle East and southern Asia to talk about their experiences and perspectives, in an effort to promote peace and understanding in a troubled part of the world. Growing up with a mother who is a psychologist, Gavrielle says she learned the importance of honest, sincere communication in resolving human conflict. “Understanding and communication are the most primary basis for human change,” she said. “The best way to go about creating change is for people to learn how to respect, trust and communicate.”
Last summer, Gavrielle participated in a conflict-resolution forum with teens from several Middle Eastern countries. She returned home determined to apply what she had learned and continue to build bridges among young people in countries with deep animosities. “I decided that the way I could help the most in my community was to have as many people as possible speak face to face with other humans their age in different regions involved in the Middle East conflict,” she said. Using large-screen Skype technology, she began hosting weekly forums involving teens from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, as well as students at her school. Her sessions began with over 60 American participants and more than 200 from overseas. “Together, we are learning how to empathize, and what it means to obtain peace and justice,” she said.
Amelia, an eighth-grader at Alice Deal Middle School, launched an initiative with her sister to support wounded veterans by raising money and focusing attention on their sacrifices. Amelia, who began volunteering at Walter Reed Bethesda National Military Medical Center at age 9, purchased gifts one year for the patients there and handed them out during a Christmas party. At the event, she saw a quadruple amputee receive a specialized “track chair” from a nonprofit organization, and realized she could do more to help America’s wounded warriors.
Amelia and her sister decided to launch an initiative to help more veterans get track chairs. They invited some of the amputees they had met at Walter Reed to come to their school to share their stories, and persuaded a local television station to cover the visit. Then Amelia hosted a car wash outside of her school that raised $1,000. At first, “I didn’t know much about amputees and specially designed chairs for them,” she said, “but now I am determined to help in every way I can.”
“By using their time and talents to better their communities, these young people have achieved great things – and become examples for us all,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “Congratulations to an exemplary group of honorees.”
“These students have demonstrated a truly remarkable level of leadership and commitment in the course of their volunteer service, and it’s an honor to celebrate their accomplishments,” said Michael Allison, president of NASSP. “We commend each and every one of them for a job well done.”
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2016 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. More than 29,000 middle level and high school students nationwide participated in this year’s program.
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 21 years, the program has honored more than 115,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
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 Association of Student Councils. 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.
Editors: For pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW
For B-roll of the District of Columbia's honorees at the 2016 national recognition events, contact Prudential’s Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or email@example.com.