Local girl recognized for volunteer work - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Local girl recognized for volunteer work

(HawaiiNewsNow) - Every week Brittany Amano takes two buses to Leahi Hospital to visit with elderly patients. She was recently named one of two state honorees in the nation's largest national program honoring student volunteers. The amazing part? She's only 12!

June Mohr, 16, of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, a junior at Kealakehe High School, helped raise more than $27,000 for the American Cancer Society by taking a leadership role in a Relay for Life campaign, and was the most active member of her school's community service club last year.

Brittany Amano, 12, of Honolulu, Hawaii, a seventh-grader at Washington Middle School, is the only youth member of a volunteer group that performs each week for elderly patients at a local hospital.

These two amazing teens – selected from 20,000 entries nationwide -- have just been named State Honorees in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, the nation's largest national program honoring middle and high school students for their outstanding acts of volunteerism.

The State Honorees receive $1,000, an engraved silvermedallion and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. in May for severaldays of national recognition events. At that event, five middle and five highschool students will be named National Honorees -- "America's Most OutstandingYouth Volunteers." They will then receive an additional $5,000, a goldmedallion and a crystal trophy.

This year marks the 15th Anniversary of this program and the celebration of an era of youth volunteerism. When it comes to making their communities better places to live, kids can be remarkably creative in their approaches to alleviating societies' problems. Hunger, illness, violence, substance abuse, environmental crises, poverty – no issue is too difficult for America's youth to tackle.

Volunteering has become a trend among the nation's teens. Recent statistics and programs show that kids who get involved in volunteer projects do better in school, get along better with their parents and are more able to resist substance abuse than those who don't. Statistically, 90% of today's teenagers who volunteer are happy and feel good about themselves. Four-fifths get along well with their parents and other adults.

Brittany is 12 years old, lives in Honolulu and is a seventh-grader at George Washington Middle School. She is the only youth member of a volunteer group that performs each week for elderly patients at a local hospital. Brittany had a friend who volunteered regularly at a community center, which "showed me that I should help out somewhere too in my free time, instead of watching TV or playing games," she said. She then learned that most of the elderly patients at Leahi Hospital rarely received visits from their families, and realized that she could help bring them joy and comfort by joining a group of senior citizens – including her grandmother – who go to the hospital every week to entertain and assist the patients. After school on Wednesdays, Brittany takes two buses to get to the hospital and then spends two and a half hours with her group, singing, dancing, telling jokes, and leading exercises for 40-50 elderly patients. She also helps some of them at mealtime, and enjoys just visiting with them. Although Brittany has done a lot of volunteer work in the past, "I've never had such a memorable time as I have volunteering at Leahi," she said. "You see them smile when you sing their favorite songs, and you learn  so many things from them about the past." 

Application forms for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards will be available through middle and high schools, Girl Scout councils and county 4-H offices throughout the U.S. beginning in September. In July, interested students may also obtain an application by visiting www.prudential.com/community/spirit, or by calling 1-888-450-9961.

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