During April 2006, the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) held celebrations to honor recipients of its annual Youth Inspire! Awards. More than 250 students participated with their families in awards ceremonies held throughout the county.
Students ranging in age from five to 21 years were presented with special Youth Inspire! certificates recognizing their efforts, achievements, and character. Each of the local celebrations featured an awards ceremony and a "build-it-yourself ice cream sundae" event.
"When adults see a student doing something positive and acknowledge it, they help provide the building blocks of character," said David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools. "Youth Inspire! sends a message that young people need to be recognized for the positive things they do."
Ceremonies were held on April 4 at Orangevale Community Center, April 6 at Clunie Community Center, April 18 at Pannell Meadowview Community Center, and April 25 at Robertson Community Center. Award recipients were from more than 90 local elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as community colleges.
Since the 2001 start of Youth Inspire!, 1,010 local youth have been lauded for demonstrating heroic resilience, involvement in community service projects, and/or strength of character. The typical recipient performs volunteer service, plays a leadership role at school, maintains good grades, and/or exemplifies a positive attitude in spite of challenging circumstances.
A program of SCOE's Prevention and Student Services Department, Youth Inspire! offers everyone in the community an opportunity to honor young people who are making a positive difference. Any adult — including parents, teachers, employers, and clergy — may submit a nomination. Nominations may also be submitted by an organization. The names of nominators remain confidential.
Youth Inspire! Partnership Council member Eric Fry, an employee of Sacramento City Unified School District, explained that every nominee who meets the qualifications receives the Youth Inspire! Award. "We aren't just singling out one person to get this award," Fry said. "We're giving everyone a chance for recognition—they don't have to compete against someone else to get this award."
According to Youth Inspire! project coordinator Lynn Milan, those who receive the award have much to be proud of. "These young people have aspired to heights that are inspirational," she said. "Some of those nominated suffer from chronic illness, but despite their challenges face life with smiles and a positive attitude."
Youth Inspire! Partnership Council members include representatives from Elk Grove Unified School District, Folsom Cordova Unified School District, Sacramento City Unified School District, California Parks and Recreation Society, Sacramento City Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Sacramento County Office of Education. Supporters of the Youth Inspire! awards ceremonies included Advantage Printing in Rancho Cordova, Paula Maita and Company of Elk Grove, and Burr's Ice Cream of Sacramento.
Those interested in obtaining more details about the Youth Inspire! project should call (916) 228-2449.