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. Eight 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 8 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 Humanitarian Award recognizes youth who have put forth efforts to make their community a better place 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 organized fundraisers, designed play grounds, repaired houses, helped elders and others in need.
The Innovator Award shines the spotlight on the efforts of youth who have shown excellence in the fields of math and science through research, study, or improvement in their community. Previous nominees include youth who studied humpback whale DNA, created a community planet walk, participated in robotics programs, and conducted earthquake research.
The Lifesaver Award celebrates youth who have gone above and beyond “the call of duty” by preventing injuries and illness 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.
The Phoenix Award celebrates youth who rise with new life like a phoenix and 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 or community address difficult circumstances.
The Visionary Award recognizes youth who have turned their creativity and knowledge into an economic venture. Previous nominees have built and hosted websites and have even started their own movie theatres, coffee shops and delivery services.
The Dreamer Award recognizes teens who are actively engaging in their community through the preservation of cultural practices and arts, those who share personal expression through visual or performing arts, and those who cultivate youth voice through media and digital art forms. Previousnominees include students who have worked on radio programs and local newspapers, organized musical ensembles, and taught native arts and dance.
Teens nominated for the Role-Model Award lend a helping hand to peers and younger youth in their community. These teens can be outstanding leaders, peer counselors, or a positive assistant in the classroom. Previous nominees have included tutors, mentors, or instructors in a variety of fields. These teens build assets in themselves and their friends.
The Discovery Award highlights accomplishments made by youth in environmental advocacy projects and technology ventures. Previous nominees include youth who mapped the Kenai floodplain and worked to restore the Kenai River banks, as well as those who created relevant websites and taught computer skills in their communities.