John Carroll School junior Sahil Menon recently was named a 2017 distinguished finalist by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for his work establishing a program that teaches STEM to homeless children and children with learning disabilities. Here are the details:
We Cancerve’s Sahil Menon one of two Harford County winners of Prudential Spirit of Community Award
(Bel Air, Md.) — Sahil Menon, 17, of Bel Air, Md., recently was named a 2017 distinguished finalist by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. He will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
Menon is a junior at The John Carroll School and founder of STEMAxcess, a nonprofit organization based in Harford County that teaches STEM to homeless children and children with learning disabilities. Diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and learning challenges, he established “STEMAxcess” after looking for a STEM camp for himself and not being able to find one. He worked with his school’s STEM coordinator to create a curriculum that has provided 26 campers with fun, hands-on instruction over the past two years, he said.
Last summer, he facilitated a two-day STEM session at Harford Family House during Camp Happy, a free day camp created by the We Cancerve Movement for the Aberdeen-based transitional housing program for homeless families and for Anna’s House. Menon is a member of the all-youth board of advisors for the We Cancerve Movement, Inc. Plans are underway to bring STEMAxcess modules to other homeless programs this summer. The We Cancerve Movement, Inc., creates programs and initiatives to bring happiness to homeless, sick and foster children. To date, We Cancerve has donated more than $9,000 in cash grants to Sinai Hospital, Casey Cares Foundation, Harford Family House, Anna’s House, Eastside Family Emergency Shelter and the Sharing Table, and plus more than $23,000 in products to more than seven homeless shelters, four hospitals and a group home for children in foster care.
Menon was recognized as one of two Harford County students named Distinguished Finalists for impressive community service activities. Caroline Collins, 18, of Bel Air, Md., a senior at C. Milton Wright High School, was inspired by her triplet sister with autism to help create “Stand Up for Autism,” an annual variety and comedy show that has raised more than $5,000 for Autism Speaks and now involves more than 30 student volunteers and faculty advisors. Caroline has led the event’s education committee, which created videos for the show to inform people about autism and the work of Autism Speaks.
“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the nearly 10 million school children with a learning disability who love to learn but struggle in school. I also accept this award on behalf of the nearly 2.5 million homeless children who live in shelters and cannot afford to pay for summer camps,” said Menon. “I worked very hard with Mr. Jason Schmucker a science teacher at HCPS whose experience with special needs kids helped me develop a fun, hands on interactive curriculum for Camp STEM and I am so excited that this effort was recognized.”
Maryland’s top two winners are Lena Goldstein, a junior nominated by McDonogh School in Owings Mills, who won gold, and Michaela West, a fifth-grade student nominated by Saint Joseph’s Regional Catholic School in Beltsville, who won silver. Goldstein took last year off from school to travel with her physician parents to remote areas of South America and Asia, where she worked with nonprofit organizations to provide medical services – including language translation services – to people who would otherwise have little access to basic healthcare. She also founded a group at her school to facilitate discussions of global healthcare issues and organize drives to collect hygiene and health supplies for future medical service trips abroad. West formed a club at her school that assembles and delivers basic necessities wrapped in blankets or sleeping bags to the homeless people of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. She formed the “Bundles of Love Club” at her school, and to date has delivered 124 of her “love bundles,” aided by more than 240 volunteers that she rallied to her cause.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 22nd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. These Maryland honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.
“Prudential is honored to recognize these young volunteers for their exemplary service,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope that their stories inspire others to consider how they, too, can volunteer their time and talents to improve their communities.”
“These service-minded young people have brought meaningful change to communities at home and abroad, and it’s a privilege to celebrate their work,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “Congratulations to an exceptional group of middle level and high school students.”
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