Written by Jill Nossa, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 13 March 2014 12:56
In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the Kids of Distinction program is offering more scholarships and planning a festive gala that will look back on a decade of supporting our most civic-minded children. The Town of Oyster Bay and Kids Helping Kids by Kids Way, Inc., the sponsoring entities, are seeking nominations of local youngsters who are standouts in public service for the 2014 awards.
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, together with Kids Helping Kids co-founders Robert A.J. Eslick and Philip M. Eslick, kicked off the search for a new batch of “kids of distinction” at the end of February. Nominations are due by May 16. Winners will be recognized at a special ceremony held by the board of trustees on Tuesday, June 17 at 7 p.m. with a citation from the town and a $2,000 scholarship from Kids Helping Kids.
“The ‘Kids of Distinction’ scholarship program was initiated in an effort to recognize outstanding young people who have been active in exceptional endeavors in their community,” Venditto said. “In celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Kids of Distinction program, the Kids Helping Kids Scholarship Committee will award ten $2,000 scholarships this year.”
Co-founder Philip Eslick said the concept of the program is to recognize youths for volunteering on their own initiative. At last year’s ceremony, eight exceptional Town of Oyster Bay youngsters were honored. “Last year’s winners certainly fit the bill, many going above and beyond the call of duty to help others in their community,” he said.
Caroline Hindman of Laurel Hollow won last year as an 11th-grader at Cold Spring Harbor High School. Now a senior, she has had an interest in keeping parks and other public places clean and clear of trash since she was in fourth-grade, and began a community service project to pick up trash at Stillwell Woods Park while in junior high school.
“I had a teacher when I was in fourth-grade in England who was my favorite person in the entire world,” says Caroline. “On Earth Day, she explained how important it is to keep the Earth clean.” She says her teacher had been involved in creating a water well in Nigeria, which inspired Caroline to be proactive.
“What she did was so big...this was just a way I could do my small part to show that I care about the environment,” Caroline says.
Caroline’s mom, Paige, says her daughter had such a strong interest in cleaning up the trash in a park that she frequently visited that she contacted the park director to get her to sign off on the hours.
“She went out of the box with her community service,” says Paige. “She created her own project that was not the traditional, school-driven project.”
She spent almost every weekend at the park and even recruited friends to help collect the trash.
“It was surprising how much garbage was there,” says Caroline. “I’m going to college in the fall and am hoping to continue with keeping it up on visits home.”
Paige says it was the park director who contacted her, recommending Caroline for the award. She won a scholarship and was honored last year.
“All of the kids were fantastic,” says Paige. “It’s unbelievable what kids can accomplish and what they are motivated to do.”
Kids of Distinction focuses on activities children participate in outside of school. These activities should, in some way, benefit the community.
Robert Eslick said he expects this year’s crop of nominees to be just as compassionate as in previous years, the winners just as worthy, and he is glad to help them toward their goals.
“The Kids Helping Kids academic scholarships greatly help students fund their college education and related expenses and in these tough economic times every dollar helps,” he said.
Nominees will be placed in two categories, those currently in fifth through eighth grades and those in grades nine through 12. The age groups were established so nominees can be evaluated fairly against their peers. Five winners will be selected in each category by a committee organized by Kids Helping Kids.
“There are so many wonderful young people living in the Town of Oyster Bay who not only demonstrate academic or extracurricular skills, but also do a little something extra to help make the world a better place,” Venditto said. “We felt it was important to recognize our young residents who involve themselves in voluntary community, charity or civic activities on their own individual initiative.”
In addition, Kids Helping Kids by Kids Way, Inc. is inviting several past scholarship recipients to attend the 2014 ceremony for a “What are they doing now?” review. “In celebration of the 10-year anniversary,” Eslick explained, “we thought the 2014 scholarship candidates would love to hear from their peers and past scholarship recipients about what they are doing at college or in their professional careers, years later in their young lives.”
Any student or anyone who wishes to nominate a student (in referenced categories) must fill out an application/nominating form and submit it to Kids Helping Kids by Kids Way, Inc., prior to the May 16 deadline. Application/Nominating forms can be obtained at Town Halls North (Oyster Bay) and South (Massapequa), as well as at local TOB libraries and schools. Application/Nominating forms can also be found on the town’s website, www.oysterbaytown.com.