Members of the Hawai‘i Senate today recognized exceptional middle and high school students who are acknowledged for their outstanding school and community service. Students were selected for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, for the State of Hawai‘i. This is the largest youth recognition program in the U.S.

Mahealani Sims-Tulba is a senior at Sacred Hearts Academy. Mahealani authored a book on bullying called “It’s Okay to Be Different,” and she uses this book to connect with and encourage your people who might be facing bullying. She has also established a non-profit foundation called “BRAVE,” which stands for “Be Respectful and Value Everyone.” Additionally, Mahealani created a music video to share her message, appears in weekly television programming, initiates an annual toy drive for children in need, and participates in numerous community events.

Grace Kennedy is an eighth grader at St. Anthony School in Kailua, Hawai‘i. Grace is a board member for “Kidz For A Cause” and she has raised thousands of dollars to benefit sick and abused students. Grace began her volunteerism by selling tickets to a benefit theater show and raised $1,000 to help purchase clothes, toys, and school books for the Children’s Justice Center on O‘ahu. As a Prudential Spirit award recipient, Grace will travel to Washington D.C. next month and attend an awards gala at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Justin Wong is a senior at Roosevelt High School and he has worked with the Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders to reduce political polarization amongst his peer group by introducing public dinner discussions and initiating discussions online. Justin has 400 volunteer service hours and has served two terms as President of his school’s Leo Club.

Emily Smith is a sophomore at Ho‘ala School in Wahiawa. Emily is the founder of “Lend-a-Paw,” a pet-rescue organization that aims to ensure that shelter animals are well fed and able to live in safe environments. “Lend-a-Paw” manufactures dog treats and pet toys, and they also support fundraising efforts, all of which is shared with the community through a YouTube Channel and via school presentations.

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