This morning I brought a panel of judges to Queen of the Rosary Academy to judge the finalProject Empower non-profit competition. After developing their own civic project over the past four weeks, 12 teams from two separate academies sought the chance to win the grand prize and a trip to the New York City Regional Competition coming up in February.
Congratulations to Peace Makers and Santa's Helpers for winning top score from their schools!
Peace Makers was an anti-bullying effort that created a pledge bookmark, invited Detective Steven McDonald to speak to at their school and held a poster contest among their peers. Santa's Helpers collected nearly 150 toys then personally delivered them to the local hospital.
While these two teams will have to opportunity to present at our big competition in two weeks, they are not the only winners for today. Check out some of the other projects we saw:
The "Homeless Helpers" campaigned for donations of warm clothes and volunteered their time at local shelters. "Driving Irresponsibly" created an education campaign to end drunk and distracted driving. "Free Shoveling for Senior Citizens" did just that. "All Children are Born Special" collected funds and created a viral awareness video for a local runaways shelter - and even performed a special rendition of Lady Gaga's Born This Way. "Water Resources" had peers take a pledge to participate in a weekly water-conservation day. "Litter" donated their time during recess for several weeks to clean trash from the school block. "Animal Helpers" put up fliers and collected supplies for local animal shelters. "Ugly Tie Contest" had students donate to participate in a contest for the ugliest tie. "Beauty Inside and Out" designed a website to teach students about Locks for Love. "Head Start for the Future Generation" collected books for local day care centers. Other groups collected donations and designed awareness campaigns for St. Jude Children's Hospital, USO, UNICEF, Wounded Warriors, Salvation Army, Good Dog Foundation, as well as local food pantries, day care centers, shelters and hospitals.
Today's judges all hail from the worlds of finance, business, and New York University. Each donated their time to be part of the event.
All we did was give three basic instructions to these students: identify a need, come up with a plan, and implement it. What impresses me most is how creative and bold each group was with their efforts. With youth comes fearlessness and thus the tendency to take greater risk. As years jade the rest of us, it's important we watch these students as they remind us of the payoff that comes with bold action.
Congratulations to all of the students and a huge thanks to our judges and teachers who made this such an incredible experience!