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Ariel Lyon 17, and Shea Wilcox 17, received the highest award in girl scouting, the Gold Award, in a ceremony on May 13 at the House of Wickersham. They earned the award for demonstrating leadership skills, organizational skills and sense of community and commitment.
In addition to an initial year spent completing general requirements to achieve the award, the two scouts spent two years researching, designing and developing a Web site, www.JuneauTeen.com, of teen resources as a final project to make a lasting difference in the community.
The scouts realized there was a desperate need for information on local resources after seeing friends run away from home, drop out of school, become sexually active and turn to drugs and alcohol. After conducting an assessment of youth needs, the scouts compiled information from more than 100 services and activities in the Juneau area, detailing where to go for help with health, school and family problems; sexual issues; job searches; transportation needs; as well as where to volunteer, find fun things to do and places to hang out. A portion of the Web site also has been printed in a booklet, with funding from Communities In Schools, available at the Juneau Teen Health Center.
The project earned state and national recognition for excellence when Lyon was selected in February as Alaska's top high school youth volunteer, for the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. The program, sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and Prudential Financial, honors young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism, and is the United States' largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service.
Lyon attended a recognition ceremony at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. this month, after being selected to represent Alaska based on criteria such as personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact and personal growth.
"Volunteering gives us that sense of place and worth that we might otherwise look for in all the wrong places," Lyon said in her remarks at the Global Youth Service day celebration held this month in Anchorage. Lyon encouraged other youth to get involved in community service and to be recognized to show how many positive contributions they can make, to overcome the negative images of youth often portrayed in the media.
The Teens Resisting Abuse and Initiating Non-violence (TRAIN) program at AWARE will maintain the Web site. For more information, call TRAIN at 586-5920.
Comments are welcome on the website in the "about us" section. For more information on volunteer tips, project ideas, and application for the 2009 Spirit of Community Awards, visit www.prudential.com/spirit, or www.principals.org/prudential.