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Extraordinary Students Awarded for Powerful, Global Projects

Monday, October 28, 2013

From life-changing surgeries to food and clean water, to warm winter wear for those who desperately need it, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is proud to introduce the 2013 Power of Children Award recipients.

A national search revealed extraordinary youth who took it upon themselves to make a difference in the lives of others. The award honors and further empowers youth who have made a significant impact on the lives of others, demonstrated selflessness, and exhibited a commitment to service and the betterment of society.

On November 1, 2013 during a special dinner and awards ceremony, the museum will pay tribute to the newest class of six extraordinary young people.

“These extraordinary youth are transforming the lives of others every day,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “It is our intention to honor those who do so and inspire others to join in selfless acts to improve the world around them.”

Listed in alphabetical order are the honorees and and a description of their projects.

Madeline Cumbey (grade 6) Oswego, Illinois: At the tender age of nine, Madeline was diagnosed with high cholesterol.  Coming from a family with a history of heart disease and stroke, Madeline changed her own lifestyle and now helps hundreds of Midwest families on a quest to be healthier. Her nonprofit company, SMART2bfit oversees three organic gardens that have produced over 1,500 pounds of food for food banks in Illinois. Madeline is also environmentally conscious and, along with a group of volunteers she has coordinated, has built a greenhouse watered from rain barrels. She also sponsors a SMART Walk fundraiser and SMART health clubs within schools.

Maria Keller (grade 7) Plymouth,  Minnesota: “What would a world without books be like?” wondered 7 year old Maria several years ago. Now a 7th grader, Maria has put more than 800,000 books in the hands of at-risk children worldwide.  Her nonprofit Read Indeed encourages hundreds of volunteers to collect, count, sort and distribute books around the globe.  Maria has raised $50,000 to purchase books and pay for warehouse space and shipping costs.

Charles Orgbon III (grade 11) Dacula, Georgia: Charles is working hard to clean-up the planet, and has recruited 2,000 young people to join the cause. Charles started a nonprofit called Greening Forward.  It began as a school club in 2008, but now Greening Forward is an organization with a $100,000 operating budget that hosts an international environmental youth summit annually as well as provides grants for youth-driven environmental projects.www.greeningforward.org

Alexandra Skinner (grade 10) Vincennes, Indiana:  Alexandra found a creative way to fill two educational voids at once - the elimination of art classes in her school district and unproductive, wasted time during after-school child care.  She founded ASAP (After School Art Program).  Now in several elementary schools in Indiana, volunteers lead after-school art programming using supplies donated by civic organizations and community sponsors.www.afterschoolartprogram.org.

Makenzie Smith (grade 8) Bordin, Indiana: Thousands of southern Indiana infants, children, teens and adults are wrapped in warmth thanks to a young lady who makes sure they have coats and outerwear when they are unable to afford it. In second grade, Makenzie showed extraordinary compassion when she opened Makenzie’s Coat Closet.  Seven years later, 20 organizations and countless volunteers have helped Makenzie provide 13,500 coats and many thousands of hats, scarves and gloves for grateful recipients.  www.makenziescoatcloset.com

Christopher Yao (grade 11) Jericho, New York: Christopher brings smiles to the faces of children who have never been able to smile before –literally! Born with a dental structural problem himself, Christopher has made it possible for more than 70 children in developing nations to have cleft-lip surgery.  The success of his philanthropic work inspired him to found Kids Change the World.  Its mission is to empower youth to start their own charities and fundraising programs with start-up grants from Kids Change the World.  A recent count shows more than 19,000 volunteers and supporters from 34 nations are involved with his organization. Christopher has been featured on several national television programs and has received an invitation to the White House from President Barack Obama. www.kidschangetheworld.org

The Power of Children Award is a natural extension of The Power of Children: Making a Difference exhibit at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, which takes visitors on a journey through the profoundly difficult lives of 20th century young heroes Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges and Ryan White.

Each recipient of the Power of Children Award will receive a $2,000 grant courtesy of the Kroger Foundation to continue his or her extraordinary work, a four-year post-secondary scholarship to a participating institution of higher learning Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, the University of Indianapolis, and Butler University and they will be recognized in the museum’s The Power of Children exhibit.

Images of the winners and the ceremony are available upon request.

Nov. 1, 2013 dinner and awards ceremony begin at 6:30 p.m. in The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis Power of Children gallery.

The Power of Children Awards are presented by Deborah Joy Simon Charitable Trust.

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a nonprofit institution committed to creating extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families. For more information about The Children's Museum, visit www.childrensmuseum.org, follow us on Twitter @TCMIndy, Facebook.com/childrensmuseum and YouTube.