Two Parker Students Earn National Honor For Impressive Acts of Kindness
Parker Students Named California's Top Youth Volunteers of 2017 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
Parker Senior Meghana Reddy, 17, and Parker Middle School student, Kenan Pala, 12, were named California’s top Middle and High Level Youth Volunteers of 2017 for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national program which recognizes students for their impressive acts of volunteerism.
“This is a rare honor for two finalists to come from one school in the entire state,” said Kevin Dunn, Director of Parker’s Community Engagement department. “It is jaw-dropping the amount of time both Meghana and Kenan have put into helping the community.”
Meghana was recognized for her work using her 3-D printer to create artificial hands for children and adults in countries who cannot afford prostheses. Inspired during a family trip to India, Meghana was shocked to see children without limbs. The experience moved her to help those in need. Shortly after returning home, she researched and worked with local computer and software engineers to create affordable limbs with her 3-D printer and distributed them to international charities. To meet the growing demand, Meghana created a nonprofit organization called “Limbs of Love.”
“Whenever I see a smile on a child after receiving their prosthetic limb,” said Meghana. “That is what keeps me going and wanting to do more for others.”
Kenan was recognized for his work launching his “Food4Homeless” program, which has provided more than $5,000 to homeless shelters in San Diego and has fed more than 2,000 homeless at local soup kitchens. Kenan has been volunteering for a variety of homeless charities since kindergarten. However, it was one event that solidified his purpose to continue his work. During a visit to the beach, Kenan witnessed a crowd of people gathered around a sick baby seal, trying to save it. Kenan was shocked by the amount of strangers who stepped up to help the baby seal while a homeless man begging for help received no attention.
In 2016, Kenan gathered a dozen other Parker students to collect more than 4,000 boxes of cereal to create The Guinness World’s Record largest cardboard-box mosaic in the school gym. All boxes were donated to the Interfaith Community Shelter.
In a press release, Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld said, “Prudential is honored to recognize these young volunteers for their exemplary service. We hope that their stories inspire others to consider how they, too, can volunteer their time and talents to improve their communities."
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 22nd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). The program chooses two finalists from every state in the US. Meghana and Kenan will join the other national finalist on an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. and to receive $1,000 each, an engraved silver medal for their service and will qualify for one of 10 national awards announced at the recognition ceremony.
Francis Parker School is a private, independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12 from across San Diego County. Founded in 1912, the Lower School is located on the Mission Hills Campus with the Upper and Middle Schools on the Linda Vista Campus. Parker's mission is to inspire a diverse community of independent thinkers whose academic excellence, global perspective and strength of character prepare them to make a meaningful difference in the world.