Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs recently recognized a group of young citizens in Central Florida who participated in the Jefferson Awards Lead360 Challenge. The program engages and celebrates America’s youth for their efforts in making a difference and inspires young people to coordinate and participate in public service projects in their community.
The Jefferson Awards, founded by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and National Development Council Chairman Sam Beard, is the country’s longest standing and most prestigious recognition system dedicated to activating and celebrating public service.
Mayor Jacobs presented each honoree with a certificate. Honorees included elementary, middle and high school students and teachers, who volunteered in 13 different projects and six “big ideas.” The projects and big ideas addressed a variety of issues, including hunger and poverty, environment and sustainability, education and literacy, civic engagement and community building and health and wellness. Recognized participants and projects include:
- Ocoee Middle Food Drive – Hunger and Poverty, Ocoee Middle School
- Bike Trail Clean Up – Environment and Sustainability, Tildenville Elementary School
- Warriorthon – Health and Wellness, West Orange High School Student Government Association
- The Gift of Literacy for Tykes – Education and Literacy, East River High School BETA Club
- T.I.P.S. from Children – Civic Engagement and Community Building, Family and Friends United
- School Survival Kits – Education and Literacy, Arbor Ridge School National Junior Honor Society
- Green School Sustainability Project and Initiative – Environmental and Sustainability, Castle Creek Elementary School
- Sanitary Supply Drive – Health and Wellness, Shaheer Ali
- HOPE – Peace and Justice, Freedom Middle School
- Animal Care and Wildlife Preservation, Yash Alva
- Give Kids the World Village – Health and Wellness, Arbor Ridge School
- Teen Trendsetters – Education and Literacy, Walker Middle School
- A Book and a Toy for Every Girl and Every Boy – Education and Literacy, Waterbridge Elementary School
- Hope View Blood Drives – Health and Wellness, Hope’s View
- Supply Drive for Ronald McDonald House – Health and Wellness, Corner Lake Middle School Future Farmers of America
- Caring Cougars – Hunger and Poverty, Keene’s Crossing Elementary School Caring Cougars
- Ending Poverty One Family, One Neighborhood at a Time – Hunger and Poverty, Windy Ridge School
- Back to School Bash – Civic Engagement and Community Building, Winegard Elementary School Student Council
- Greenhouse Solution – Hunger and Poverty, Cornerstone Charter Academy
“Community service is truly the foundation for a healthy community,” Mayor Jacobs said. “Here in Orange County, we’re blessed to have active, engaged citizens, including thousands who participate in our advisory and service boards, and countless more in our neighborhoods, schools and churches. Our citizens are making a difference and age or background does not matter.”
West Orange High School’s Warriorthon project was named the Mayor’s Top Project by the Orange County’s Citizens’ Commission for Children. Warriorthon, an initiative of the Student Government Association at West Orange High School, was held in partnership with the University of Central Florida and helped raise money and awareness for the Children’s Miracle Network. Their efforts culminated in an event that had students on their feet dancing, playing games and other various activities for 10 hours. West Orange High School exceeded their fundraising goal of $10,000 and raised more than $18,000.
Altogether, the efforts of these students and teachers from Orange County engaged 6,000 volunteers and generated a financial impact of more than $320,000 within the community.
To view a collection of photos from the event, visit Mayor Jacobs’ Flickr album.