Wednesday, April 30, 2014

TOP STORY >> Young volunteer in U.S. spotlight

Leader staff writer

Cabot Middle School South fifth-grader Riley Strube was recognized at her school with a standing ovation from her classmates as she accepted the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for the top middle school and junior high school youth volunteer in Arkansas based on her community service.

Strube volunteered more than 450 hours in the past four years for I CAN! Dance, an organization that allows children with special needs to participate in dance programs and perform around the state.

As the state honoree, Strube received a $1,000 scholarship, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense paid four-day trip to Washington to be recognized.

Strube accepted her award, presented by principal Georgia Chastain, in front of family, students and her dance buddy, Londyn Giles, a North Little Rock kindergartener.

The fifth-grade students gave her a standing ovation for her achievement.

Strube will receive a President’s Volunteer Service Award certificate and a letter from President Barack Obama.

She has a chance to be awarded one of five $5,000 scholarships, a crystal trophy for Middle School South and a $5,000 donation to a charity of her choice.

“You don’t have to be a certain age to do community service. You have to find something you love to do and make community service out of that. With I CAN! Dance, I love to dance, so I made community service out of that,” Strube said.

“I get to come to dance class and teach little kids with special needs how to dance. We do the ‘Hokey Pokey’ and ‘Animal Action,’ where we get dance when they say the animal; we dance like that,” Strube said.

The special needs dancers are not charged to be in I CAN! Dance. Strube helps with fundraising efforts for the program too.

She made and sold bracelets to raise funds to build a special-needs accessible playground.

She also volunteers with the Susan G. Komen foundation, cheering on the walkers and helping with hospitality.