NEWS RELEASE From MDE
For Immediate Release: February 20, 2018
Two Mississippi Students among Nation’s Top Youth Volunteers
JACKSON, Miss. – Two Mississippi students are among a select group of students nationwide who have been recognized as top youth volunteers for 2018 in the 23nd annual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. More than 29,000 young people across the country participated in this year’s program.
Grace McAllister, 15, of Nettleton, and Jameshia Attaway, 14, of Indianola, have been selected as Mississippi’s top youth volunteers this year. As state honorees, each will receive a $1,000 award, an engraved silver medallion, and a trip to Washington, D.C., for the program’s national recognition events in April.
Grace, a freshman at Nettleton High School and a survivor of sexual abuse, has collected and donated more than 1,000 new stuffed animals to comfort children traumatized by sexual abuse.
“I have gained the knowledge that I am a survivor, not a victim,” said Grace. “I have seen that small tokens of love and hope can make a difference. I have gained back myself from volunteering.”
Grace created a YouTube video to tell her story and encourage others to “break the silence.” It’s been viewed more than 40,000 times. She then contacted a local Family Resource Center with a proposal to provide stuffed animals to young abuse victims. She held collection drives through her Facebook page, raffled off a huge teddy bear to raise money, and partnered with local businesses to collect stuffed animals. She also started an “ambassador” program to encourage children in other states to collect stuffed animals for their local resource centers.
Jameshia, a member of Girl Scouts Heart of the South and an eighth-grader at St. Joseph High School, supplies five schools in her area with personal hygiene items that she collects for students who have a need for them during the school day.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, created in 1995 by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, are designed to emphasize the importance of service to others and to encourage all young Americans to contribute to their communities.
“Mississippi’s Prudential Spirit awardees are using their talents and life experiences to benefit others,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “I am proud of their accomplishments and their commitment to serving their communities.”