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FREDERICK — A local high school senior, Ginny Creager, is this year’s recipient of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, a recognition of her volunteerism.
Creager, 18, put in 1,400 hours of community service in multiple programs including Teens Ending Relationship Abuse, an organization that seeks to educate young people through social awareness presentations for the prevention of interpersonal violence.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. Creager will join other honorees from across the country for an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., for four days of national recognition events.
Creager, a senior at Frederick High School, said she felt empowered by the experience of talking to teens about value of healthy relationships.
“Unexpectedly, the more we helped others, the more empowered we became,” Creager said.
She helped with a text line for teens to help answer questions for her peers, and another program, Smart Girls, at Coal Ridge Middle School in Firestone.
“Every Thursday after school, I run a group of about 10 sixth grade girls,” Creager said describing the Smart Girls program. “And we have a ten-week session of different courses that assist young girls, because that time is a big transition in a young girl’s life.”
The girls in the program talk about the pressures they face, exploring issues of self esteem and body image.
“Basically we talk about anything you can think of a sixth grade girl might need to learn about,” Creager said.
Creager extolls the value of positive role models in childrens’ lives, and she credits her mother as being an inspiration for giving back to the community.
“She’s always supported me 100 percent,” Creager said. “Back in 1997, when I was two years old, my father had a stroke, and he almost died – he had only a two percent chance of surviving. I’m so glad to have him today. I’m the youngest of five kids, and back when that happened, my mom decided that instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we would spend all of our energy and power into helping others. And ever since then, I’ve been involved in community service.”
Creager also is a vice president of Rachel’s Challenge, an anti-bullying group. As a member of the Girl’s Leadership Council of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Ginny helped raise $20,000 to aid at-risk youth in Denver, and travels the state to promote female empowerment. She also created a quilting club to raise money for philanthropic causes through sewing and knitting projects.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 19th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
All public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. These Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.
Creager is still considering what subject she will emphasize in her college education, but she knows she wants to continue her involvement in community service programs.
“I’ve been looking into business recently, and social justice is one of my biggest interests,” Creager said. “I’m thankful for this award and this trip to Washington, D.C., and I appreciate the recognition. But honestly, I would still be doing the community service if I wasn’t awarded. The driving motivation for me is to give back to the community."
Creager thanked the people who supported her involvement in community service.
"I am so grateful to my counselor, Kathy Zulauf, my principal, Pete Vargas, my school and my community for bringing me to where I am today.”
Contact Ben Wiebesiek at 303-659-2522, ext. 205, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.