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Prudential Spirit of Community Award Honorees

Date: May 6, 2004
Location: Washington DC


Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, today I recognize Meghan Pasricha and Andrew Bell for being selected as two of the Nation's top youth volunteers in the ninth annual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. This is an extraordinary honor. More than 24,000 young people across the country were considered for this recognition each year.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, created by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, NASSP, constitutes America's largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteerism. The awards are designed to emphasize the importance that our Nation places on service to others and to encourage young Americans of all backgrounds to contribute to their communities.

Meghan Pasricha was named as one of America's top 10 youth volunteers for 2004. Selected from more than 2,000 applicants, she received $5,000, an engraved gold medallion and a crystal trophy from her school, Sanford School. In addition, she will have $25,000 in toys, clothing and other juvenile products donated in her name to needy children in the area by Kids in Distressed Situations, Inc.

Meghan Pasricha, 18, of Hockessin, is a senior at Sanford School. Meghan started an antitobacco club at her school that has since developed into a full-blown campaign to educate young people across the country and overseas about the hazards of smoking. When Meghan heard that her State legislature was considering a ban on indoor smoking, she paid close attention. After learning that most smokers start before they turn 18, Meghan founded the Anti-Tobacco Action Club at her school. With a grant from the American Lung Association and the Delaware Health Fund, she recruited a core team of volunteers, led meetings, planned a year-long series of antitobacco activities, created training and presentation materials, and conducted 12 tobacco awareness workshops for school and youth groups. She also set up a tobacco education booth at a school health fair, published a newsletter and helped other Delaware schools start tobacco education programs. And by writing newspaper articles and speaking publicly, she helped mobilize youth support for the enactment of one of the Nation's toughest indoor smoking bans.

On a visit to India, Meghan observed how young people there are targeted by tobacco sellers, so she trained a group of youth advocates to raise awareness in a number of villages. Later, Meghan presented her project at the World Conference on Tobacco in Finland, and worked with youth advocates from nine other nations to prepare a World Health Organization Youth Action Guide and video. "I am convinced that a single person, even if young and inexperienced, can become a catalyst for change," she said. "Young people are often told that they are 'leaders of tomorrow.' I urge young people to become leaders today."

Andrew Bell of Seaford was selected as one of Delaware's top youth volunteers for 2004. He received a $1,000 award and was congratulated by Academy Award winning actress and comedian, Whoopi Goldberg. He also received an engraved silver medallion and a trip to Washington, DC, for the program's national recognition events.

Twelve-year-old Andrew, a sixth grader at Sussex Academy of Arts and Sciences, helped collect shoes, socks, and shoelaces for needy orphans around the world. Andrew started the project by writing letters to the four elementary school principals in his hometown of Seaford, asking them for permission to collect donations in their schools. He wrote articles for his school newsletters, created handouts and brochures explaining the purpose of his project, decorated collection boxes for each of the four schools, and solicited donations from local department stores. Some 300 pairs of shoes, 83 pairs of socks and 15 pairs of shoelaces were collected for this effort. From there, the items were sent to the Buckner Orphan Care facility in Texas. The items were then distributed worldwide to orphans in need. Andrew felt that this project was important because "many children on Earth are poor, and not very many people are trying to help them."

Today, I rise to congratulate Meghan and Andrew. These youngsters inspire examples of community spirit and leadership. They serve as role models not only to their peers, but to all of us, as well as to the people they have touched through community service. They represent the State of Delaware at its very best.