A teacher, a Boy Scout, a mayor, volunteers and a theater program were among those honored at the DeKalb County KEYS Initiative’s fourth annual Asset Champions Awards. The awards were created to recognize local people and organizations making extraordinary efforts to create positive connections and build developmental assets in young people.
This year’s honorees include Andi Andree, a special education teacher at Sycamore High School who was recognized by a former student for genuinely listening to student ideas and offering help and encouragement; Kris Povlsen, the former coordinator of DCP/SAFE, former DeKalb alderman and recent DeKalb mayor, who has spent his career advocating on behalf of youth; Greg and Sherri Howells, the Sycamore couple who started the mobile food-packing project Make a Difference 2K10, recognized for their commitment to youth – not just in DeKalb County, but all over the world; Kevin Loitz, a Sycamore High School student and Eagle Scout who collected and repaired 55 musical instruments and donated them to Sycamore School District for students who cannot afford instrument rental; and the Penguin Project, an inclusive musical theater program that allows young people – both with and without special needs – to participate in the performing arts. This project demonstrates that people with disabilities are fully capable of participating in community activities with the same dedication and enthusiasm as others, if given opportunities and support.
The five recipients were selected from a field of nine nominees. All nominees received a certificate of recognition.
Building a foundation of assets for all children and teenagers may be the most critical challenge and opportunity facing our society. Building this foundation begins as adults choose to treat young people differently and put their well-being above all else. Getting personally involved in asset building and encouraging others to do the same is one of the most important commitments any person can make for the future of young people and society.