Each year, Spirit of Youth recognizes roughly 150 youth from 50 or more communities by soliciting nominations from caring community members and partnering with school boards to conduct local recognition events. These youth receive accolades for accomplishments that no other group applauds, including cultural pursuits, science and environmental activities, the arts, and service to the community.
Spirit of Youth is excited to partner with KTUU-TV to continue its efforts to support outstanding Alaska youth and better share their stories. KTUU’s Channel 2 News will feature Spirit of Youth nominees monthly during the school year, as part of its ongoing “Spotlight on Youth” series. The feature stories will also be posted on the “Spotlight on Youth” section of KTUU.com. “Spotlight on Youth,” which airs each Friday on the Channel 2 NewsHour, is dedicated to featuring students making a difference and the latest trends in Alaska education.
Each young person or group who is nominated receives a congratulations packet from Spirit of Youth and a certificate, which is presented at a public gathering. Nominees are eligible to be selected for the Spirit of Youth Award each year. Eleven nominees are chosen by the Spirit of Youth Teen Advisory Council to receive the award. Individual award recipients will receive a scholarship from the UA College Savings Plan of at least $2,000 and 11 runners-up will each receive a $500 scholarship. Group recipients receive a grant to support their efforts.
Spirit of Youth’s radio series is aired on virtually every public radio station in Alaska reaching nearly 100 communities and 94,000 listeners. This 48-part series has been on the air for 13 years and highlights a number of the nominees in order to allow adults around that state to hear positive and accurate portrayals of teens that counterbalance negative stereotypes which so often get perpetuated by the media. Since our start, thousands of positive stories about Alaska youth have been shared through television, radio and local newspapers.
The Business and Government category recognizes youth who have turned their creativity and knowledge into an economic venture or are active in local or state government. Previous nominees have managed political campaigns, served on school boards and youth courts, built and hosted campaign websites, or have started their own movie theatres, coffee shops and delivery services.
The Cultural Pursuits category recognizes nominees who actively engage and promote traditional cultural practices and arts. Previous nominees keep their culture alive through teaching Native dance, sewing, beading, carving totem poles, and practicing subsistence skills.
This category recognizes service performed on behalf of, or as part of, one’s faith. Previous nominees have provided fellowship and support to their peers, as well as service to those in need locally, and across the globe.
The Fine Arts category honors youth who excel in the visual or performing arts. Many teens represented in this category express their concern about the problems facing today’s youth through personal expression and performance. Previous nominees have organized musical ensembles, dramatic presentations and facilitated art events and benefit activities.
This category salutes teens who have surpassed “the call of duty” by preventing injuries and saving lives. Previous nominees have shown courage by pulling hypothermic tourists out of a raging river, taught life-saving skills, conducted seat belt programs and served as volunteer firefighters or first responders.
This category salutes youth who display exceptional determination and stamina as they overcome significant life challenges. Previous nominees have raised funds to help others with an illness, have succeeded despite disability, or helped their families address difficult circumstances.
The Science and Environment category highlights stories of youth exploring the world of science or advocating for the environment. Previous nominees include youth studying Humpback whale DNA, creating a planet walk, mapping the Kenai flood plan, restoring Kenai River banks or advocacy/education projects through the Alaska Youth for Environmental Action network.
The Service to Community category acknowledges the relentless efforts of youth who are making the community a better place. Previous nominees in this category have organized fundraisers, designed playgrounds, repaired houses, helped elders, and given tirelessly to those in need.
Teens nominated in this category lend a helping hand to other youth through their leadership, advocacy and volunteer efforts at school and in the community. Teens serve as teachers, counselors, judges, attorneys, planners, organizers and role models as they build assets in themselves and their friends.
The Service to Young Children category honors those who help the youngest, and in doing so become inspiring, positive role models. Previous nominees include tutors, mentors, classroom assistants, coaches and instructors in a variety of fields.
This category celebrates the accomplishments made by youth exploring the frontiers of technology and media in all forms. Previous nominees include students making a traffic safety video, teaching computer skills, creating websites, hosting radio programs or working at the local newspaper.