Austin Aspires: First recipients of ‘Bright Spots’ named

Published 8:10 am Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Jennifer Lawhead

Executive Director Austin Aspires

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

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The mission of the Human Rights Commission is to cultivate a just and inclusive community where diversity is valued and human rights are respected. As a welcoming community, our goal in Austin is to bring residents together in a spirit of unity, to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone. The vision of Austin Aspires is that Austin will be recognized as a leader in education with a culture of educational excellence, cradle to career, embraced in every aspect of our community. In addition, we have the aspirational goal that our community will address social, emotional, mental and physical barriers to success for all learners.

Austin Aspires and the Human Rights Commission are pleased to co-sponsor the Austin Bright Spots Award. Recipients of the “Bright Spots” award are teachers, community members, organizations, or businesses who demonstrate commitment to students in Austin.

A “Bright Spots” recipient is a person/business/organization who demonstrates compassion and availability, support and inspiration, and welcome and approachability to young people in Austin. They show care and concern and are engaged and accessible. They provide encouragement or emotional help. They react to students with enjoyment and approval and are friendly and easy to talk to.

The intention behind this award is dual. First, that students have a chance to honor the adults in our schools and community who demonstrate support for student wellness. Second, to call out the notion to all of us in the community that we ALL can be a Bright Spot for young people.

Candidates from Austin Public Schools, Pacelli Catholic Schools, Riverland Community College, and the community at large were nominated and selected by Austin and Pacelli High School students, Riverland students and the Austin Aspires Health Action Team. This year’s recipients will be honored at the City Council meeting on May 21st at 5 pm. 2017-2018 honorees are: Cori McRae – I.J. Holton, Todd Johnson – Austin High School, Roger Staupe – Pacelli Catholic Schools, Keith Cich – Riverland Community College, Kyle Keenan – Coffee House on Main, Brandon and Nikki Harrison – Cornerstone Church.

Below are some of the reasons why these folks were nominated for the Bright Spots Award.

“She has shown me that anything can be fun if you go in with a smile and a great attitude.”

“He makes me feel better and happier at school.”

“He is always happy, kind, and positive. He inspires us to be kind to each other.”

“He is very welcoming, not just at work, but in the community as well. He creates a space that is an oasis from the stressors of life.”

“It’s a nice environment that everyone is welcome in, the employees are very friendly and they care about you.”

“They teach by example, push us to be better, and are always kind.”

We are so thankful for all the adults in our community who create warm, accepting, and nurturing spaces for our young people to live, learn, and grow. Whether it is your neighbor, the young person at church, or the cashier at Hy-Vee, find a way to be a Bright Spot for a young person in Austin every day!