Maggie: You could call it the Super Bowl of service. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is the largest ceremony in the U.S. that recognizes young people based entirely on their volunteer service. And Scott Evans was there to hear those inspirational stories.
Scott: From charity vegetable gardens to initiatives helping child abuse victims, these ten young people were selected out of more than 30,000 participants in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. But they weren’t the only ones being honored at this year’s awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Winners from each state also got recognized for their work to help make their communities better.
Student: Yeah, I started an app development class.
Student: What we try to do is bring hope to foster children and child abuse victims.
Student: I’m creating a curriculum to teach elementary and middle school kids about bullying.
Scott: We caught up with one of the top ten honorees, Sean Egan, a senior from Monsignor Farrell High School in New York, before the awards. And his project is pretty special to him.
Sean Egan: I actually lost my father in 9/11. He was a firefighter. And, I guess, growing up, there was always that patriotism feeling, always that giving of self.
Scott: His organization, Hearing Our Heroes, is dedicated to thanking American veterans. In a way, honoring his father’s memory.
So, what do you think your dad would say about this, like if he saw Hearing Our Heroes, was able to log on the website or even be at one of these events? What do you think he would say?
Sean: I think he’s watching us right now and I think he has a smile on his face. He’s always there guiding me. So I think he’s proud.
Scott: And there is plenty to be proud of. His group mobilizes a roster of about 300 of his fellow students and friends, and hosts events and cookouts to give veterans in the hospital, and those just back from service abroad, a warm welcome home.
Sean: If it wasn’t for the veterans, they wouldn’t be in their position and we wouldn’t be America if it weren’t for them. They deserve to know that we appreciate what they do.
Scott: And the awards ceremony brought out some big names, like Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian Forest Whitaker.
Forest Whitaker: You are so young. You have so much potential. You will be the leaders and the innovators of tomorrow. You will scale to such heights that my generation…my generation, we can’t even fathom what you are going to do.
Scott: Your speech was amazing! It was the advice you gave, the words of wisdom you gave. Why was it so important for you to be here tonight?
Whitaker: It’s actually very inspiring for me to look out at them and read what they’re doing and recognize for myself that, you know what, tomorrow is going to be a good day because these kids are working; these kids are making this happen.
Scott: Sasha Pieterse from ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars was also inspired by these young volunteers.
Sasha Pieterse: It’s amazing what these kids do and what they’ve accomplished in just such little time in their lives. It’s amazing just the passion they have already.
Scott: But some of the best words all night came from teens so dedicated to service that it seems as though nothing can stop them from leaving an impacting on the world.
Student: It’s not such an encouraging thing when the, kind of, standard deviation for teenagers is, ‘oh, I don’t care; oh, it’s all about me; oh, I’m going to take another selfie’. Instead of focusing the camera, both literally and figuratively, on themselves, they look at their communities and see how can I make a difference here.
Scott: Changing the focus from selfie to selfless.
Scott Evans, Channel One News.
Maggie: To learn more about these inspiring young people and to see how they are changing the world one community at a time, just head on over to ChannelOne.com.