Monday, November 3, 2008

The Creative Kids Make a Difference and Earn Presidential Service Awards

Nine child leaders from Plymouth, MA, who named themselves “The Creative Kids” received Presidential Service Awards for their community service this summer. The children were empowered to bring families together for a day of fun at an event they created and led called “Into Our World Day” on August 23, 2008, at JunglePlex. Lynne Richardson, proud mother of Shane & Ainsley Richardson, had the idea to coach a group of children in creating such an event when she realized that the most important gift she could give to her children was herself. “With the many demands on parents today,” Lynne said, “our time can seem like the hardest gift to give, yet when we choose to play, we connect and communicate with our children in a way that greatly impacts their self-esteem and confidence.” Liz Parsons, a teacher in Duxbury and supporter of the Reggio Emilia approach to learning (where children are honored and respected for their potential, capabilities and humanity) was also a coach on the project. Parents Erin Murphy and Sue Breault contributed in extraordinary ways with their dedicated support.

Into Our World Day was a huge success with over 200 people in attendance. The day cost only $5 per family thanks to the support of JunglePlex ( and included sports, games, arts & crafts, face painting, a moonwalk, raffle prizes donated by 23 local sponsors, and entertainment showcasing Brett Outchcunis (a.k.a. “Ooch”) of Ninepoints Entertainment (, a captivating Yo-Yo professional and life skills coach for children. Parents reconnected with their inner child, left their to-do lists behind and focused on truly “being” with their children. The kids had a blast playing and competing with their parents, and many families expressed interest in future events!

The Creative Kids were proud of the difference they made for families and are considering other ways to give back to the community. They donated proceeds to Autism Speaks which funds autism research & awareness. If you are interested in unlocking the self-expression and leadership skills of children, or if you’d like to find out how your child can get involved, please contact Lynne Richardson at If you are interested in learning how “Ooch” can make a difference in your child’s school, he can be reached directly at

The Creative Kids (except for little Ainsley Richardson in the front row) were or are students of Indian Brook Elementary School - the first (and so far only) Take Pride School in Massachusetts.

Hyattsville Elementary School Students Attend Signing Ceremony in Washington, DC

On October 28, 2008, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne signed an order extending the authorization of Take Pride in America® within the Department of the Interior through the year 2010. The program, designed to encourage volunteerism on public lands, had been set to expire on November 1, 2008. As part of the ceremony we invited students from Hyattsville Elementary School in Hyattsville, Maryland, one of our Take Pride Schools, to attend the ceremony. Mrs. Amelia Davis, the TAG (Talented and Gifted) Coordinator/Library Media Specialist, and 2 of her 6th grade TAG students, Jose Mendoza Duarte and Billy Kennedy III, were able to accept our invitation to attend. We asked them to tell us in their own words about their experience. This is what they had to say (actual submissions).

Jose Mendoza Duarte

In the beginning we left Hyattsville Elementary School to go to Washington, DC. I was site seeing, like I saw the monument and some other stuff. When we entered the parking lot and got out the car it was pretty windy, then we crossed the street entered the building but before we got on the elevator we had to go through security to see if we had anything illegal. I got checked and I was OK (of course). We went up the elevator to the 6th floor. We put our coats in an office and used the restroom. We walked to the Secretary of Interior’s office and it was big!!! It had the first president’s (George Washington’s) desk!!! He showed Billy and me the papers he was going to sign and he asked for 2 pens; I wondered why. When he signed the papers, he used one pen with his first name and with the other pen he signed his last name. I got one of the pens and Billy got the other. Later on we sat down on these comfy sofas and he asked us what we were going to be when we were older. Then other people talked about what they did, what happened when they were volunteering, were they scared, etc. We took some pictures and some people got rewards. We didn’t (sadly). After we left the office we got a bag filled with goodies like a cap, bumper sticker, Frisbee, pencil bag filled with some school supplies, candle, etc. I had a lot of fun and hope to go again.

Billy Kennedy III

On Tuesday October 28, 2008, I went with Jose Mendoza, Ms. Davis & my mom to watch the Secretary of the Interior extend Take Pride in America through November 2010. The day was very windy, and in the office, we could hear the wind whistling. The office was very fancy and huge. George Washington, the first president of the United States, had a desk that was in the secretary’s office. After he signed the bill, we were presented with the pens he used to sign the form. Afterwards, we were given a gift bag filled with a tote bag, a candle, a cup, a bumper sticker, a Frisbee, a pencil bag, etc. I had a lot of fun and I hope I can enjoy similar experiences in the future.

Mrs. Amelia Davis

A visit to the Department of the Interior to meet with Secretary Dirk Kempthorne was a highlight for two TAG students at Hyattsville Elementary along with their teacher. The students were fascinated with Washington’s landmarks as well as participating in the signing ceremony in which Secretary Kempthorne extended the Take Pride in America authorization. The students listened intently to the stories of other volunteers who were at the signing and enjoyed chatting with the Secretary about their volunteer efforts.

This is the second year in which Hyattsville Elementary School has participated in the Take Pride in America Schools Program by volunteering during Gorgeous Prince George’s Day. Parents, teachers, and students planted trees, shrubs and bulbs in an effort to beautify the school grounds. In addition, the TAG students at Hyattsville participated in weeding and planting native Maryland plants to protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The students took a trip on board a skipjack to learn more about Bay conservation, pollution, and the animals and plants that inhabit the Chesapeake Bay. They also displayed a “museum” research project in the school’s media center to increase student awareness of the beauty, problems and environmental importance of the Chesapeake Bay.

The staff at Take Pride in America wants to thank Mrs. Davis, Jose, and Billy, for attending the signing ceremony. These 2 boys were perfect gentleman and everyone commented on how great it was they were here. We would also like to thank Mrs. Washburn, the principal at Hyattsville Elementary School, for allowing the students and Mrs. Davis to be with us. I know that she had to pull some strings to get permission from those above her and we are grateful for her efforts.

On a personal note, I want to say how proud I am of Billy (he’s my son) and Jose. They represented Hyattsville Elementary well and they should be very proud of themselves.

If you would like information on how to become a Take Pride School, visit our website at or contact us at 202-208-5848.