Youth Inspire! Ice Cream Social and Awards Ceremonies took place April 13, 2004, at the Robertson Community Center in the northern part of Sacramento County and April 21 at the Edward Harris, Jr., Middle School in the county's south area. More than 200 youth ages 5-21 were honored for their contributions to the community. The students received the Youth Inspire! Award, an honor that recognizes young people for positive endeavors. Nancy Hafer, who coordinates the project for the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE), says that Youth Inspire! "applauds students' efforts, achievements, and character." She says that the honorees "demonstrated heroic resilience, involvement in community service projects and/or strength of character." The typical Youth Inspire! Award recipient performs volunteer service, plays a leadership role at school, has maintained good grades, and/or has exemplified a positive attitude in spite of challenging circumstances.
Students were nominated for a variety of reasons, such as: "He demonstrates a level of honesty, respect, and truthfulness that is not often seen in young people of his age." "... Inspires others with his impeccable integrity, his humility, his dependability, and his respect for hard work." "She is an organized and motivated individual who is always willing to give 110% of herself." "He is an outstanding example of a youth-focused on community service and helping others succeed." "She has potential to do great things and it all begins with her great attitude." Nomination categories included Heroic Resilience, Community Service, and Strength of Character.
Nearly 300 Youth Inspire! Award nominations were received in the 2003–04 school year from schools and civic groups. Developed in 2002 by the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) in partnership with local school districts and human service agencies, Youth Inspire! is not a competitive program; all youth who met the criteria are honored.
Says Hafer, "Youth Inspire! sends a message that young people need to be recognized for the positive things they do. The program dispels harmful stereotypes about today's youth. We welcome the chance to share their stories of service, courage, and hope."
The names of those who submit nominations for Youth Inspire! awards remain confidential. At the awards events, honorees wrote thank-you notes to be delivered later to their anonymous benefactors. Each recipient received a Youth Inspire! t-shirt and made commemorative buttons for themselves and proud family members to wear. Ice cream sundaes supplied by Burr's Fountain were served. The two Youth Inspire! events were attended by close to 400 people, including award recipients, family members, friends, teachers, and education and civic leaders.