When do we actually get to celebrate teens in the headlines? Each year the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards awards 100 teens around the country for their incredible acts of volunteerism and community outreach. And this year, the winners are out!
It's interesting to learn what's top of mind for America's youth today. Clearly, it's not always Facebook or mobile gaming! These American teens have created incredible volunteer programs around some important and timely issues of our times like, bullying, preserving the environment, tolerance for kids with disabilities and feeding the hungry.
Drum roll... Here are some of the honorees:
Jennifer Wright, 18, of Nashua, N.H., raised awareness of domestic abuse and bullying through brochures, self-defense seminars and speaking engagements.
Stephanie Jennis, 16, of Montville, N.J., raised more than $500,000 to fund programs that promote the inclusion of children with disabilities.
Iko'Tsimiskimaki ("Ekoo") Beck, 16, of Missoula, Mont., developed a program to prevent bullying and reduce prejudice among students at high schools, middle schools and elementary schools.
Emma Rider, 14, of Bridgeville, Del, collected nearly 40,000 pairs of used shoes in order to buy water purification systems in developing countries.
Catherine Mitchell, 16, of Oceanside, Calif., a created a business called "Beauty 4 Life" that enables women in Uganda to earn a living and educate their children by selling their handmade paper-bead jewelry in the U.S.
Neha Gupta, 15, of Yardley, Pa., raised more than $240,000 to provide schooling and other educational resources to disadvantaged children in India and the United States.
Christina Bear, 14, of Golden, Colo, launched a campaign to educate people about the danger of radon and encourage them to test for the odorless gas in their homes.
Jonathan Crider, 18, of Marlow, Okla., organized rocking-chair marathons in his community that raised more than $45,000 to feed children who otherwise risk going hungry on weekends.
Jesse Sheldon, 17, of Spokane Valley, Wash., started a "diaper bank" that distributed more than 35,000 diapers to families who are struggling economically.
Jordyn Schara, 17, of North Freedom, Wis., created a nonprofit organization that collects and disposes of unused or unwanted pharmaceuticals so that they do not end up in the water supply, while raising awareness of prescription drug abuse.
Jonny Cohen, 16, of Highland Park, Ill, invented an aerodynamic shield that fits on the front of school buses to reduce wind drag, substantially improving gas mileage and reducing pollution.
As state honorees, each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., for several days of national recognition events. Ten of them will be named America's top youth volunteers for 2012 at that time. Stay tuned for top 10 teens picked!
To learn more about the program, and submit your teen to be nominated next year, go to www.spirit.prudential.com.