JFK students attend summit on saving children
by Paisley Boston
Apr 18, 2014 | 2834 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Azariah Jones (left) and Imre' Shaw traveled to Washington to urge legislators to support policies that help children in the U.S. and around the world get a healthy start in life. The John F. Kennedy Memorial High School students were among 26 students from around the country who won a scholarship to participate in Save the Children's Advocacy Summit.
Azariah Jones (left) and Imre' Shaw traveled to Washington to urge legislators to support policies that help children in the U.S. and around the world get a healthy start in life. The John F. Kennedy Memorial High School students were among 26 students from around the country who won a scholarship to participate in Save the Children's Advocacy Summit.
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Azaiah Jones and Imre' Shaw, John F. Kennedy Memorial High School students, recently attended the Save the Children’s 12th Anniversary Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C.

The purpose of the summit was to rally the support of lawmakers and legislators to make policies that ensure that every child in the United States is healthy, educated and protected.

Advocacy Summit participants came from more than 30 states across America, including youth from 22 states.

The summit was designed to encourage youth across America to become advocates for children around the globe.

This year’s Advocacy Summit focused on getting babies and toddlers in America and around the world a healthier and stronger start in life.

According to Save the Children Associate Director of Media and Communications Ajla Grozdanic, in the United States, kids living in poverty are developmentally 18 months behind their peers by age four. Yet, two out of five children in America are not enrolled in preschool. Meanwhile, every day, 18,000 children around the world don’t make it to their fifth birthday, losing their lives to mostly preventable and treatable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia.

"The two students chosen were among 26 teenagers chosen nationwide to receive the scholarships, that covered the cost of travel and accommodations for the two-day summit. The students were nominated by their teachers after demonstrating experience and interest in speaking out for issues affecting youth," said Grozdanic.

"The number of students we selected was based on the amount of funding we were able to allocate for the youth scholarships," she added.

Jones said his mom and uncles have always instilled in him the importance of standing up for what's right.

His advice to other kids is to never doubt your ability to make a difference.

He is a volunteer in the 21st Century Save the Children after-school tutoring program.

Jones spent many years in the program and he said it helped him to become a better reader and team player.

He is now a member of the Future Business Leaders of America.

Shaw also volunteers at the after-school program and is a member of the Future Business Leaders of America.

He said it is important to stand up for others because helping others is what truly defines what being apart of the human race is all about.

John F. Kennedy Memorial High School Principal Dr. Wanda Stringer said she is very proud that the young men were selected.

"This attests to what we are trying to do at our school and in our school district. We are trying to prepare young people so that they can participate in a global world," she said.

"I truly feel that they represented our school well. For them to be selected is an honor in itself and this is certainly a testimony to the preparation that we are giving our students. These two students are some of our very best students – academically and behaviorally," she added.

Grozdanic said in order to qualify; a teacher must nominate students.

Each nominee filled out an application form, which included two essays illustrating how the student has stood up or spoken out for what matters to him/her in his/her community.

"The students had to explain how attending Save the Children’s Future Leaders program at the Advocacy Summit would help them advocate on behalf of kids and how they planned to get their peers involved after returning home from the summit," she added.

"The scholarship opportunity was open to 12 to19-year-olds with an emphasis on high school students," said Grozdanic.

Stringer said it was not surprising that Shaw and Jones were selected because they conduct themselves well at school and they are serious about their education.

According to Grozdanic the two scholarship winners from Mississippi, are former participants of Save the Children’s literacy program offered in their community.

Since 2003, Save the Children has implemented its core early childhood education, literacy and health programs in communities throughout Mississippi.

The program is designed to encourage youth across America to become advocates for children around the globe.

This year's advocacy topics were global child health and survival and early childhood development in the United States.

At the two-day event, Save the Children recognized three legislators—Senator John Boozman, Senator Tim Kaine and Congressman Richard Hanna.

During their visits to Capitol Hill, young advocates shared their personal stories and talked about why investing in children early is so important.

Disney star and platinum-selling recording artist Bridgit Mendler was also in attendance.

In addition to Mendler, key speakers at Save the Children’s Advocacy Summit included Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, Cokie Roberts of ABC and NPR, and CNN’s Kevin Madden and Stephanie Cutter. 

According to Grozdanic Save the Children knows from experience how important kids’ voices are when it comes to advocating for children’s issues.

"Having kids speak out for kids is one of the most powerful ways to raise awareness of key issues and get our nation’s leaders to listen to their voices and put children first when making policy decisions," she added.