Mike Bialy of Bethel PRIDE
A group of teens from Bethel and young people from Nunam Iqua and Stony River have won Spirit of Youth Awards. The organization honors youth who are making a positive impact in their communities.
Natasha Price with Spirit of Youth says the Y-K youth won in three categories.
“One was a dance group. Another was a young woman who advocated having seafood served in her school meals. And a young woman who represented her small school in trying to keep it open because it was on the verge of closing,” said Bialy.
Spirit of Youth started in 1997 as a way to address the growing negative image of teens in the media. A panel of peers selects winners.
In Bethel, Michael Bialy (Bee-ah-lee), Emily Berryman, Tony Boyer and Tandy Vangtan won in the fine arts category for their Bethel P.R.I.D.E. dance group. Bialy says he formed the group after seeing Mao Tosi’s Anchorage AK P.R.I.D.E group perform.
“And I was like, Wow! They are amazing. And I just wanted that same thing here in Bethel. Built off of pride, built off of passion, built off of family and being united as one to support different arts and cultures,” said Bialy.
Bialy describes the group’s style as hip-hop, but says they also do other styles of dance like waving, tutting, locking, break dancing and dub-step dancing.
Shanelle Afcan (Aff-can), from Nunam Iqua (Ick-wah), near the mouth of Yukon, took home an award in the Science and Environment category for an initiative at Mount Edgecumbe High School to get local seafood into the school meal program.
Elizabeth Willis, from Stony River, northeast of Bethel, also won in the Service to Peers category for opening a grocery store in her village to support the Gusty Michael School.
The 2014 winners were announced in February and honored at a banquet in Anchorage in April. 22 youth ages 12-19 were honored. Spirit of Youth features winners on a radio program.
Anyone can nominate a young person for a Spirit of Youth award. For information on how to nominate a young person go to www.spiritofyouth.org