The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, an award that celebrates inspiring, public-spirited, diverse young people from all across America, recently announced that 18-year-old Sruthi Ramaswami was among its 2013 national winners.
Each year, the Barron Prize honors 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive difference to people and our planet. The top ten to 15 winners each receive a $5000 cash award to support their service work or higher education.
Ramaswami, an Indian American from California, was recognized for having founded the Mitty Advocacy Project, a network of over 1,000 students lobbying legislators to support bills that help the less fortunate by addressing social justice issues such as poverty and immigration.
Teams of students research issues such as poverty, education, immigration, and criminal justice, and then identify bills designed to address these issues. Students lobby legislators in Sacramento and have traveled to Washington, D.C. to do so at the national level. Five of the six bills they have lobbied for have been signed into law.
Ramaswami began her work as a high school freshman, invited by a teacher to prepare for and participate in Catholic Lobby Day, an advocacy event to mobilize Catholics in California to lobby state legislators. Inspired and empowered by that experience, she created MAP in her sophomore year to form a community of youth lobbyists to represent the interests of the less fortunate.
As the cornerstone of MAP, Ramaswami founded California Youth Advocacy Day, an annual event to promote civic engagement. For the past three years, over 600 high school students have taken part in the event, participating in issue-specific workshops led by MAP students and then lobbying their legislators at the state Capitol.
MAP has grown to involve 100 students at Sruthi’s school and has expanded to over 50 schools nationwide.
“I’ve learned that mobilizing people to believe in and work towards a common goal is not the purview of adulthood,” the teen stated in a press release. “Motivation and self-belief trump age.”
Source : IndiaWest