September 30, 2014.
Boca Raton, FL. “I heard my middle school classmates giggle as I tried to escape my embarrassment and the bullying by quickly disappearing” is the opening sentence of the $1500 winning essay submitted by Mandy Alvarado, a member of the Caregiving Youth Project (CYP) of the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) since 2008. She is a senior at John I Leonard High School.
Mandy, who had to grow up quickly to care for her brother, scripted, “I am 18 years old and have encountered many hardships, more than a kid my age should have been face with. I had a difficult time throughout my years in school. I wasn’t able to participate as much as I hoped to because I had to always work around my special needs brother’s schedule. This often meant sacrificing participating fully in certain clubs or hanging out with friends. I always ended up putting my brother’s needs before mine. I believe almost everyone has experienced some sort of bullying and if they haven’t well then they are lucky...”
There were significant other prizes for these high school seniors. Jailene Nunez of Lake Worth High School won second place, an award of $800 while third and fourth place tied. The $300 third place winners were Grace Cenat who attends Atlantic High School, Tierra Latson of John I Leonard High School, Charlene Nunez of Lake Worth High School. Fourth place winners who received $150 were Jonathan Pearson of Lake Worth High School and Montana Thomas of Lake Worth High School.
Last year the “novel” idea to make a difference in the lives of caregiving youth came alive by Lee Edelstein, author of Chin Music and his good friend Bob Haupt. Last year’s winner, youth caregiver Kelsy Timot, attended the event and shared her story and the difference that winning the contest made in her life.
Essays were independently evaluated according to specific criteria by seven judges: Gary Barg of Caregiver Media Group; pediatrician, Dr. Julie Belkowitz; Barbara Carney, book club member of Broken Sound Country Club; author Lee Edelstein; former school principal, Dr. Ann Faraone; and medial students Matthew Cagliostro and Jillian Halper. Medial students from UM Miller Medical also volunteered to mentor the participants. The BOMAR Foundation has sponsored the events as an encouragement for students to read, write and to provide awards for students to help them prepare for their high school graduation and futures. The reception was held at Boca Raton Resort & Club on Thursday evening, September 18th.
The American Association of Caregiving Youth® (AACY) is a Florida based 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation that began serving the greater Boca Raton community in 1998. Today AACY is the only organization of its kind in the US that addresses the issues of children, who provide care for ill, injured, elderly or disabled family members. Its model program, the Caregiving Youth Project (CYP) works in partnership with The School District of Palm Beach County. Dr. Connie Siskowski, the organization’s founder, was a 2012 CNN Top Ten Hero.
For more information call 561-391-7401 or visit www.aacy.org.