As published in the Star Advertiser on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. Written by Star-Advertiser staff.
A senior at Sacred Hearts Academy and an eighth-grader at St. Anthony School in Kailua were named Hawaii’s top youth volunteers of 2018 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program.
Mahealani Sims-Tulba, 17, of Ewa Beach and Grace Kennedy, 13, of Kailua will receive $1,000 each and all-expenses paid trips to Washington, D.C., in April.
Sims-Tulba started a nonprofit foundation to address the problem of bullying after her own fifth-grade experience. She wrote a book about her experiences, “It’s Okay to Be Different,” which she reads at schools and libraries and hands out to students. By her count, her campaign against bullying has reached 40,000 students in Hawaii.
Kennedy raised thousands of dollars to benefit sick and abused children as a board member of a Hawaii-based student philanthropic organization, Kidz for a Cause. She helped raise $1,000 by selling tickets to a benefit theater show, which helped buy clothes, toys and schoolbooks for abused or neglected kids at the Children’s Justice Center on Oahu. She raised another $6,000 by organizing a celebrity chef dinner for 100 people. That money went to help expand a local hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. She also raised money for the Ronald McDonald House by staging a variety concert and silent auction.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was started by Prudential Financial and is in its 23rd year. In addition to Sims-Tulba and Kennedy, two other Hawaii students were named as Distinguished Finalists. They are Emily Smith, 15, of Mililani, a sophomore at Ho‘ala School, and Justin Wong, 18, of Honolulu, a senior at Roosevelt High School.
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