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State Honoree

Sasha Bowers

Ohio

Sasha Bowers, 13, of Columbus, Ohio, an eighth-grader at Norton Middle School, developed a summerlong program of weekly activities for more than 250 children living at homeless shelters in the Columbus area. As a shelter resident herself, Sasha had enjoyed field trips to a local park, but thought they could be made more fun and educational. When she learned that volunteers were being recruited to work with homeless children, she figured there was no reason why she couldn’t help. “I realized that even if I was homeless, I could still help other people, too,” she said. She organized a planning committee with other kids at her shelter, developed ideas for a summer program, and sought donations from a variety of organizations. Sasha also promoted the program through media interviews, recruited and managed other volunteers, and arranged for supplies and transportation. Then every Monday last summer, Sasha and her helpers hosted a “learning day” at the park for homeless kids, featuring gardening, fishing, educational tours, environmental readings and wildlife lectures. At summer’s end, the program culminated with a big party for the kids, complete with entertainment, crafts, games and gifts. “No matter what situation you are in, you can always help make things better for others,” said Sasha.