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* Hampton City News

Posted on: June 13, 2019

Students, seniors among winners of 2019 Unity Award for diversity, positive impact in city

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June 13, 2019 - A high school student who focused on diversity and a program created to improve the safety of people with autism or cognitive disorders were among the individuals, organizations or initiatives that received 2019 Unity Awards from the Citizens' Unity Commission. Dedicated to creating a city that is welcoming, supportive and Includes all citizens regardless of race, color, religion, age, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identify, the Commission established the awards to recognize those who have had a positive impact in the city. The 23019 award winners were:

  • A Safer Hampton Roads: Nominated by Hampton Police Chief Terry Sult, this program helps improve the safety of “at-risk” residents who might have a problem communicating with authorities. It was created after the mother of an 8-year-old with autism told the chief in 2015 that she was worried about what might happen if an officer approached her son and he decided to run away or refused to respond. Today, the program allows competent “at-risk” residents, their parents, legal guardian or conservator to provide police with information that can be kept on record as needed, including the person’s name, emergency contact, specific disorder, medication they might be taking, and more.
  • Edward Wyatt Jones, Kecoughtan High School senior: Nominated by his high school principal, Jones was recognized for his citizenship, dedication, and characteristics as a role model. He has participated in “Diversity Dialogue Day,” and “Breaking the Cycle of Prejudice” training with the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. He has also “engaged in volunteer and community service efforts through the honor societies, clubs, and organizations with which he is affiliated.” And, he was on the honor roll the entire time he was a student at Kecoughtan.
  • Hampton High School Project Inclusion: Nominated by Christopher Fredericks assistant principal at Hampton High School, Project Inclusion is made up of a group of 12 students and 4 educators who are passionate about inclusivity in our schools and community. The delegation collaboratively engaged with concepts and issues surrounding gender issues, disrespect, body image, bullying, violence and race by challenging their own and others' opinions. They performed skits, role-played, engaged in-depth large group discussions, concepts mapping and many other activities with not only their school peers but also their peers and educators from the three other high schools. Most importantly, the students created an action plan to support their specific school community.
  • Peninsula Foster Grandparent Program: Nominated by Director Gina Lewis, the Peninsula Foster Grandparent Program offers individuals age 55 and older an opportunity to serve as mentors, tutors, and loving caregivers for children with exceptional needs. The personal attention each child receives from the volunteers assists with their self-confidence and self-value needed in order for the child to eventually become a productive citizen of society. This program creates an inter-generational multi-cultural experience in children throughout the Peninsula. The volunteers dispel the myth that senior citizens dissolve in value as they age and the misconception that they are ready to "drop out" of society. They diligently serve in schools/daycare centers for an average of 30 hours per week and are committed to the children they serve. 
  • Sundays Suppers Food Ministry, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church: Nominated by Michele Woods Pickens, this multi-cultural group recognizes that hungry children can be found in all races and cultural groups, and decided to bring diverse groups of people together to fight hunger. Sunday Suppers started when the Social Justice Committee at the church recognized that there were limited food options for citizens on the weeke3nd and no source of free food on Sundays for homeless and/or hungry kids. Today, volunteers are trained to recognize the value of individuals who are guests at Sunday Supper. Since 2014 the program has served more than 27,000 guests and had more than 7,000 volunteers who work an average of 3 hours each time they volunteer.

Go online to learn more about the Unity Commission and the Unity Awards.

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