WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--New Mexico's top two youth volunteers of 2016, Cameron Estrada, 18, of Roswell and Cody Osborn, 13, of Belen, 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. Cameron and Cody – 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 Cameron and Cody New Mexico'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 all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
Cameron, a senior at Roswell High School, formed a therapy group at her high school to help girls deal with the pressures of being a teenager . Cameron herself was feeling very stressed from the demands of schoolwork and extracurricular activities when she decided to seek the advice of her school’s mental health counselor. “This visit led to my discovery that there were probably many other teens at my high school that were having the same issues,” she said. A therapy group, she thought, might help address these issues.
Cameron began convening lunch meetings with girls whom she thought would benefit. As word got out, participation in her meetings increased, with as many as 30 girls showing up. In addition to dynamic discussions, the meetings often feature guest speakers on issues such as healthy eating habits, dating violence, alcohol and substance abuse and suicide prevention. Cameron also leads her group in an annual drive to collect necessities for the homeless. Due to the success of her initiative, a similar group has sprung up for boys at the school, and a local middle school has followed suit. In addition, Cameron is now advocating for teens across the country by serving on the National Youth Advisory Council for School Based Health Centers in Washington, D.C.
Cody, an eighth-grader at Holy Ghost Catholic School, has volunteered as a group leader and games facilitator over the past three years at his parish’s summer vacation Bible school camp. “I first got involved with the camp when I saw a flier at my parish announcing the camp, and how volunteers were needed to put on the program,” said Cody. “I have come back to this program every year since it was fun and provided a way to serve my parish.”
For the first two years, Cody was a group leader, responsible for guiding an assigned age group to various activities throughout the weeklong camp. More recently, he has assisted two adults in administering games for the young campers, such as water-balloon baseball. He prepares materials for each day’s events, and cleans up after each session. Cody also has recruited some of his friends to come and help. “I get a sense of accomplishment and joy from this project, seeing the smiles on kids’ faces as they have fun,” he said. “It has shown me the great feeling doing service gives me, and brings me back to it every year.”
“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 New Mexico's honorees at the 2016 national recognition events, contact Prudential’s Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.