Young volunteers from
Hilo and Maui win
national award

The two students will be honored
on a trip to Washington, D.C.

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> A student from Hilo High School and another from St. Anthony's Junior Senior High School on Maui have been named as Hawaii's top youth volunteers for 2003 by a nationwide program.

Corey Johnson, 17, of Hilo, and Kelcie Suda, 13, of Kihei, were among those recognized for outstanding acts of volunteerism in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

Announced Tuesday as state winners by a national panel, both will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and a trip on May 3-6 to Washington, D.C., where they will join honorees from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico for several days of national recognition events.

During their visit on May 5, 10 of the 104 state honorees will be named America's top youth volunteers for 2003.

Kelcie, an eighth-grader at St. Anthony, raised money for cancer research through the Terry Fox Foundation last November and devoted a summer vacation to entertaining young homeless children at the Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center.

Kelcie also made Easter baskets for the children.

"My goal while working at the shelter was to make a difference in the children's lives," Kelcie said. "It wasn't a chore. I enjoyed it."

She said she was nervous at first, but the children inspired her to keep coming back. Kelcie arranged art projects for them, showed movies and led other activities. Most of the children were not very sociable in the beginning of the summer, she recalled.

"By the end, all of the children were coming up to me to talk, hold hands and play," said Kelcie. "They taught me to live life to the fullest and to always be thankful."

Corey, a senior, founded an organization of more than 100 young people from 12 schools who work together to address juvenile delinquency and other youth issues on the Big Island.

Corey said the idea for Na Leo O Na Opio, which means "the voices of the youth," came to him while working with the prosecutor's office to create a report on juvenile delinquency in Hawaii County.

He said he realized that one report was not enough.

"To provide solutions for juvenile delinquency, the entire youth population must be represented, and a youth voice must be established and maintained," he said.

He worked with government agencies to create a formal youth development group and recruited students from 12 schools.

About $100,000 has been raised to fund several projects, including a youth economic development center, a health fair for elementary children and a career fair for high school sophomores.

"It's just the tip of the iceberg of what he does," said Hilo High Principal Katherine Webster.

The program judges also recognized two other Hawaii students as Distinguished Finalists: Charlene Shovic, 18, of Honolulu, a senior at Iolani School; and Danielle Wolfe, 17, of Haiku, a senior at Seabury Hall in Makawao. Wolfe and Shovic will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

The awards program, now in its eighth year, is conducted by Prudential Financial Inc. in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

More than 24,000 high school and middle-level students submitted applications for this year's program.

E-mail to City Desk


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