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Teens Committed to Changing the World Receive National Power of Children Award

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is proud to announce the nationwide winners of the prestigious Power of Children Award. This honor recognizes and rewards students in grades 6-11 who are improving the lives of others through selfless commitment to service and the betterment of society.

The gift of sight, helping the poor, preventing bullying, and educating others are just a few of the noble causes these teens support by creating their own projects and charities. On Friday, November 10, 2017, these remarkable young people will be honored during a special dinner and program at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis presented by Deborah Joy Simon Charitable Trust. The award recipients will each receive a $2,000 grant from the Kroger Foundation to expand their philanthropic projects, and they may choose a partial university scholarship from IUPUI, UIndy, or Butler University.

In alphabetical order by first name (and by grade at the time of nomination), the 2017 winners are:

Bradley Ferguson

Grade 10 (2015-2016 school year)
Hometown: Northfield, New Jersey
Project: Post Crashers

Bradley Ferguson lives in Atlantic County in New Jersey, which is an area that leads the nation in job losses and foreclosures. Not only does the teen see hungry classmates, he saw a U.S. Navy veteran commit suicide outside the local Veterans Association clinic. It was devastating; so, Bradley jumped into action to help hungry students and military veterans through a program he calls “Post Crashers.”

Bradley and an army of student and parent volunteers have amassed over $126,000 in grants to refurbish Harvey D. Johnson American Legion Post 295 making it a thriving community center.  At Post 295, the needs of local veterans are addressed and a victory garden built by the “Post Crashers” produces thousands of pounds of food annually. According to Bradley, “My goal is to improve the lives of our community by providing fresh produce to those in need, and making the Post a place that distributes information on available services to homeless and insecure veterans.” 

Bradley will use his Power of Children Award money to “grow” the garden and distribute food to 10,000 households.

Chloe Winston

Grade 11 (2015-2016 school year)
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
Project: Pike Rock the Vote

An uninformed, disinterested electorate is not acceptable to Chloe Winston. The Indianapolis, Indiana teenager from Pike High School is on a mission to register young people to vote, beginning with her classmates. “If my peers are not registered to vote, they are not fulfilling their rights as a U.S. citizen and their voice is not heard when legislative decisions are being made in our community,” said Chloe, who works hard to educate students about the power of voting. 

Pike Rock the Vote is Chloe’s multi-pronged high school program which initially resulted in registering more than 143 classmates to vote, educating more than 800 students about the electoral process, and helping her school meet Civics Education requirements mandated by the state.

Chloe intends to dedicate her Power of Children Award money to providing honorariums for future program speakers, cover printing costs for a voting rights brochure, and produce a video for future high school government classes that could be shared with other schools.

Elizabeth Gonzalez

Grade 9 (2015-2016 school year)
Hometown: Crown Point, IN
Project: The CURE

Imagine pulling up to a street corner, seeing the traditional red stop sign, and just below it, an inspirational sign reminding people to check their actions, choose kindness, and to be respectful. Such a sign exists in East Chicago where Elizabeth Gonzalez is battling bullying one sign at a time. A witness to bullying incidents, young Elizabeth sought ways to help solve the issue through kindness. Her first thought was to hang posters, but then her idea of more permanent signage was formulated. After consulting with city leaders and even her congressman, The CURE (Courtesy, Understanding and Respect for Everyone) proudly unveiled its first street sign to a cheering crowd. Elizabeth has also created several anti-bullying school programs. “We cannot change the past, but one positive remark at a time will change the future,” said Elizabeth.

With her Power of Children Award money, Elizabeth wants to produce additional street signs promoting kindness. She will also use the money to pursue a patent for her logo. 

Eric Li

Grade 10 (2015-2016 school year)
Hometown: Manvel, TX
Project: Lift Initiative for Technology

The recycling and refurbishing of electronics is good for the planet and good for the recipients of the refurbished technology. Eric Li says he realized the importance of recycling as early as kindergarten and has pursued efficient ways of putting refurbished electronics in the hands of those most in need. His project named Lift has kept more than 7,400 pounds of electronics out of landfills, and unlocked the world for multitudes of people. “In many of the schools where I delivered electronics, students had never seen a computer before so the existence of this technology is an eye-opening excitement for the students in Nicaragua, Nepal, and South Sudan,” said Eric.

In addition to recycling electronics, Eric has co-organized over 400 toy, clothing, and book drives. Eric has a lengthy waiting list for computers. He intends to reduce that list by using his money from the Power of Children Award to upgrade additional computers and install more software.

Kaylie Meehan

Grade 11 (2015-2016 school year)
Hometown: West Terre Haute, IN
Project: Grandpa Floyd Left Big Shoes to Fill

Kaylie Meehan was heartbroken when her Grandpa Floyd passed away in 2015. From her sadness however, came a fierce determination to bring some happiness to other nursing home residents —especially World War II veterans. Kylie committed to delivering Christmas care packages to every resident in her grandfather’s facility while honoring him with the project title “Grandpa Floyd Left Big Shoes to Fill.”

For several years, family, friends and teachers have assisted Kaylie in providing 180 nursing home residents with gift packages filled with socks, blankets, puzzles, snacks, and handmade holiday cards created by area elementary students.  According to Kaylie, “It is so important to show older generations that our youth support them, especially because some residents don’t understand how much they are appreciated.”  

Kaylie has expanded her program into a second facility. She will use her Power of Children Award money to expand into other local nursing homes, especially those who care for World War II veterans. 

Lillian Pravda

Grade 11 (2015-2016 school year)
Hometown: New York, NY
Project: Vision For and From Children

After eight-year-old Lillian Pravda had multiple surgeries to correct vision problems, she became determined to give the gift of sight to visually impaired poor children around the world. What started as one little girl distributing toys and books to children in pediatric surgical units, soon became Vision For and From Children (VFAFC) — a U.S. based global non-profit organization that raises money and awareness for ocular mission trips around the world.  

VFAFC is credited with helping more than 27,000 children receive the gift of sight. Lillian, now a high school CEO (Chief Eyesight Optimist) shares the acclaim with doctors, lawyers, accountants, and volunteers of all ages who donate their time and talents. “VFAFC provides vision in both the literal and figurative senses—‘vision’ for young patients through free eye care/free eyeglasses as well as ‘vision’ for young people to be inspired further in public service,” said Lillian.

The Power of Children Award money will be used by Lillian to launch a new initiative to help even more children receive ocular treatment.

Power of Children Symposium: The 2017 honorees will inspire and educate many more young people about the power of philanthropy when they participate in the Power of Children Symposium the day after receiving their awards. The special event at The Children’s Museum creates an opportunity for young people in grades 5-10 to understand and design ways in which they can make a difference in their world. The symposium will be held on Saturday, November 11, 2017 and is free to 50 registered participants. For more information or to register, please contact Debbie Young at DebbieY@childrensmuseum.org or at 317-334-4140.