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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2001

Governor and First Lady Present "Youth Making a Difference" Awards
Presentation Made During Futures for Kids Day at State Fair

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. and First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today presented the second annual Futures for Kids "Youth Making a Difference" Awards at the Illinois Building on the State Fairgrounds. These awards honor the outstanding volunteer efforts of Illinois youth who are making a positive impact on their communities.

Governor and Mrs. Ryan also hosted a Child Safety Seat Demonstration by the Illinois State Police to teach parents the proper way to secure their children when traveling. They also joined the 10th Anniversary celebration of the Illinois Safe Kids Coalition. The Coalition is part of a nationwide effort to reduce unintentional injury and death among children younger than 15 years of age.

The award presentation came at the culmination of events for Futures for Kids Day at the Illinois State Fair. Futures for Kids is the statewide resource for programs and policies related to the health, safety and education of infants, children and teenagers. State services under the Futures for Kids umbrella include those directly serving infants, children and youth, as well as programs for parents, educators and others who interact with kids.

"Lura Lynn and I have always been advocates for children," Governor Ryan said. "We want them to have a chance at a quality education and a safe life. That is why I asked her to Chair Futures for Kids. She is helping my administration create the best programs and policies we can for the children of Illinois."

The young award winners have made numerous contributions to their communities. They have volunteered to work at projects ranging from "Horizon Hospice" in Chicago to the Kiwanis sponsored "Key Club" in Harrisburg. Areas where these youth have made a difference include delinquency prevention, food and clothing assistance for families, senior services neighborhood revitalization, community clean-ups, drug and alcohol prevention activities, Special Olympics, and others. In addition to their volunteer work, award winners are active in their schools academic and extra-curricular programs.

"Youth like those we honor today with 'Making a Difference' Awards give me great confidence in the future for our children and our state," said First Lady Ryan. "Their unselfish service to others is a reminder to all of us who are committed to meeting Illinois' promise."

The awards program is sponsored by the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS).

"Young people have so much energy and enthusiasm to offer their communities," said DHS Secretary Linda ReneƩ Baker. "The Department of Human Services is a proud partner with First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan and the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service to sponsor an awards program that focuses on the positive accomplishments of our young people."

Nominees for the "Youth Making a Difference" Awards must be between the ages of 6 and 17 years old and must be nominated by either an organization or individual for volunteer work they have performed within the last 12 months. Volunteer work must meet an identified community need and the nominee must exhibit leadership and service in planning and carrying out community activities. Extra credit is given to activities that benefit other youth in the community. Information on nominees is verified by a source independent from the nominator. Award winners are selected by members of the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service.

Helen Shumate, Chair of the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, also participated in the awards ceremony.

"Our 2001 award winners are outstanding examples of what community volunteerism can accomplish," Shumate said. "I hope they inspire everyone to give a portion of their time and talents to help others."

The "Youth Making a Difference" Award winners are: Melissa Hoffman, 16 (Bourbonnais); Sarah Killen, 13 (Bradford); Angela Sanders, 16 (Chicago); Greg Schuh, 16 (Murphysboro), and Blake Whitson, 17 (Pawnee)

In addition to the "Youth Making A Difference" awards, Mrs. Ryan also announced several new children's programs. The "Be Real" campaign is the youth drug prevention campaign that will begin during Red Ribbon Week, October 20-October 28. This initiative builds the self-esteem and self-awareness of 10 to 14 year olds and encourages them to take pride in their talents, achievements, hobbies and interests--drug free.

A Be Real section was added to the Futures for Kids webpage today. The home page will contain Be Real activities for youth and provide helpful information for parents, teachers and youth leaders to become more involved in promoting Be Real themes and messages within families and classrooms.

The First Lady also presented for the first time her "I Want My Child to Succeed in School" brochure. The brochure is developed for parents of children of all ages with tips on becoming more involved in their children's education from reading, writing, math and science activity ideas to communication techniques to creating a learning environment at home.


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