Camp Fire of Northwest Ohio honored seven youths Tuesday for their positive contributions to the community at its annual On Behalf of Youth award luncheon program at Winebrenner Seminary.
The seven, given Absolutely Incredible Kid awards, were nominated by parents, neighbors, teachers, mentors or other adults who recognized uncommon effort in the areas of advocacy, diversity, family/school development, leadership/community service, nature and talents and skills. They were chosen out of over 50 other middle school-aged youngsters who were nominated.
Also honored were DeBow Freed, former president of the University of Findlay and Ohio Northern University, and his wife, Catherine, as recipients of the On Behalf of Youth Award.
Each of the youths were introduced with a video featuring interviews with them as well as their teachers, instructors and mentors. Each received a citation and a $250 award.
Noah Weaver, a sixth-grader at McComb Elementary School, was given the advocacy award. Instead of a party and gifts for his 12th birthday, Noah created “Dodge Ball for Ducks,” an event that brought kids together from all over Hancock County for a dodgeball tournament that raised over $550. He arranged to donate the money to Heifer International, a nonprofit and global organization that provides animals and other life-sustaining items to impoverished families. He created fliers and a website so people could donate even if they couldn’t attend the tournament. Noah is quoted as saying “Thinking about it was not helping anyone. I needed to do something. I could raise $20 by myself but getting more people excited made a huge difference.” Noah is also active in musical arts and sports at school.
Aidan Copeland, a student at Donnell Middle School, received the diversity award. He was recognized for his compassion to those less fortunate and as a leader to his peers and siblings. He has collected gently used stuffed animals from classmates to be donated to Hope House, and raised several hundred dollars to donate to Mission Possible to sponsor children in Haiti. He got his friends involved in the cause, and they made origami hats and frogs and sold them to classmates at school. He donates money to children in Haiti any time he can, and also sponsors a young boy in Haiti. He is saving his money and will soon send out letters asking family and friends for donations to go on a mission trip to inner-city Pittsburgh.
Deidra Rose, a student at Glenwood Middle School, received the award for family/school development. She has been involved in school government, serving on the Washington Intermediate School council. She takes leadership roles in every organization she gets involved in as well as in the classroom. She is an ally for students who are being bullied and will stick up for people who may not otherwise feel they have the confidence to do so for themselves. She takes a stand when necessary and encourages others not to be bystanders. At home, Deidra helps with chores and also makes sure her brother gets off the bus each day after school. She sets a positive example for her younger brother and spends time with him to make sure he understands his homework. She is also involved in Young Miss Softball and she and her friends helped younger children learn how to play.
Avery Charles received the leadership/community service award. A student at Donnell Middle School, he has volunteered at the Ohio State Special Olympics for the past three years. He mostly helps with track and field events, gathering athletes, taking measurements and recording times. He greets athletes at the finish line with a hug, water and encouragement. He has been known to gather his peers and run into the infield to cheer athletes who have fallen behind. At church, Avery is heavily involved in youth group and the confirmation process. He volunteers to help at vacation Bible school and serves on the tech group for children’s dramas. He volunteers with Upward Basketball and assists with child care. He volunteers for Toys for Tots, Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill and Safety Town. He has also gone on a mission trip to Nashville to help the homeless.
Isiah Colvin, also a student at Donnell Middle School, received the nature award. Isiah loves animals and uses his love to educate others. He is a Zooteen at the Toledo Zoo, where he volunteers several hours every month. He uses biofacts, games and cards to educate guests about animals. He also helps pull weeds in the community garden, picks up trash along the street, and cleans kennels and walks dogs at the Humane Society. He volunteers at Safari Adventures Animal Park and the Black Swamp Raptor Rehabilitation program, where he has bagged rats, cleaned cages and helped with educational programs. He has been a zookeeper for a day at Binder Park Zoo and Busch Gardens. He has also participated in programs at Sea World Florida, where he participated in the marine mammal experience, and Sea World San Diego, where he took part in the penguin tour and the beluga interactive program. He has participated in Donnell football and the Hancock Soccer League.
Amy Barto, a student at St. Michael the Archangel School, received the talents and skills awards. She has reached the highest level of ballet at her studio and has become a role model and teacher for younger dancers. In addition to dancing original choreography with the Findlay Academy of Ballet, she performs at the annual Pointe of the Evening ballet performance and has had roles in many area and regional performances. She takes time to mentor younger dancers, which involves assisting the teacher, leading exercises and offering corrections to students as young as 5. She is a member of the school band and chorus, has been a cheerleader and student helper for teachers and office staff.
Nicole Peterman, a Glenwood Middle School student, received the youth development award. She has been a member of the Silver Blades figure skating club since she was 6. In addition to helping younger skaters, she donates her old skates and dresses to girls just starting out. A member of U.S. Skating since she was 8, she has passed her pre-juvenile moves in the field and preliminary freestyle, tests needed to compete in national competitions. At First Presbyterian Church, she volunteers to serve at the monthly community dinners and she has also volunteered at community food pantries. She is a violinist for the sixth-grade orchestra, and donated her old violin to charity.
The On Behalf of Youth award is Camp Fire’s highest award for service to youth. In addition to their work on college campuses, the Freeds served assignments in Japan, Germany, Iran, Korea and Vietnam during DeBow Freed’s 23 years of service as an active-duty officer in the U.S. Army. At Tuesday’s luncheon, DeBow Freed had some advice to the young award winners: “Bloom where we are planted. Appreciate what we have,” he said. “Show up, meaning to show up and participate conscientiously in whatever we undertake. Work harder than anyone else to accomplish the goals that you set out to accomplish. Do everything with kindness and consideration for others.”
DeBow Freed also had some advice for the adults. “If we can always be effective and kind, others will be similarly affected and whatever we are attempting to do will usually come out better in the long run.”
Patty Coffman, Camp Fire of Northwest Ohio’s newly appointed executive director, concluded the luncheon by presenting each award winner with a copy of the book, “I Dare You.” She encouraged the youngsters to do even more good in their lives by being “willing to work harder than anyone else. Dream bigger, and work harder than you ever have before.”
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