David Marshall, a Juneau-Douglas High School sophomore, likes bowling and basketball. Not a big deal, you might think. But volunteering at Channel Bowl before being given a job there and playing basketball with adults before school earned him a Spirit of Youth Award.
Marshall, 16, was one of 160 Alaska teens to be recognized by the Anchorage-based Teen Action Council as young Alaskans who help others or improve their community.
The award, presented at a Juneau School Board meeting earlier this month, was for 2003. All of the accepted nominees receive a certificate signed by Lt. Gov. Loren Leman and their local school board president.
Marshall was recognized for being "a totally self-directed youth volunteer who created his own job and has managed to improve the negative perceptions adults had toward teens," the award says.
Anchorage teenagers created the Spirit of Youth organization in 1997, because they felt that teens made the news only when they did something bad, said Becky Judd of Anchorage, the Spirit of Youth board vice president.
The awards aren't for sports or academics, because those activities already receive recognition. Instead, the awards are for activities such as environmental activism, the fine arts, participation in government or business, science and community service.
"If we can raise people's perceptions of teens from trouble-makers to problem-solvers, then the bar gets raised," Judd said.
Marshall said he first became involved with Channel Bowl when he job-shadowed owner Dutch Knight for a freshman English course.
"Because he liked to bowl," David's mother, Judy, said Saturday at the bowling center.
Knight "let me come in to bowl for free for helping him out, and it led to a job," David said. "I just helped him out with whatever needed to be done."
David's bowling average is 170, he said.
Knight could not be reached immediately for comment. But Judd said Knight told the Teen Action Council that David was the best employee he had even before he became an employee.
David also helped the Special Olympics keep score at its bowling games last year.
"He had this personality where he'd get them involved," Judy said. "He goes all the way with what he likes to do and finds a way to do it."
David also was recognized for his friendly attitude, as the only student among adults who play basketball at the JDHS gym early in the morning. He said it felt awkward at first, but he got into it.
"They said he was bridging the gap between adults and teens, and adults could see there are teens out there who are polite," Judy said.
Juneau residents Michelle Palmer and Weston Eiler also were among the 160 nominees for 2003.
Palmer, a cancer survivor who wants to work in hospitals as a recreational therapist, was honored last week as one of two finalists in the Overcoming Challenges category. She was profiled in the Empire on July 25, 2003.
Eiler's efforts to garner state funding for youth courts, for which he was nominated for the award, were featured in an Empire article on June 23, 2003.