Gold Star

December 14, 2010

Skyline student scores with Seahawks

Will Parker

Skyline High School junior Will Parker attended the Qwest/Seahawks Leadership Challenge Conference for varsity athletes in July, after Skyline athletic director Kevin Rohrich nominated him for the program.

At the conference, a panel of five judges selected him as a finalist, giving him scholarship money and a $250 grant Parker is donating to the Skyline boys basketball program. He also has the opportunity to intern with the Seahawks.

Parker volunteers with Issaquah’s Athletes for Kids, Feed the Hungry through the Issaquah Meals Program, and the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.

Sammamish grants dollars to Issaquah nonprofits

November 2, 2010

Sammamish City Council members cited the impact of the economic downturn and increased the amount the city grants to local nonprofits Oct. 26.

The money allotted by the council — $192,000 — includes grants to some Issaquah-based organizations. The allocation is a sharp increase from 2010. The city doled out $147,000 for 2010.

“I’d like to see some increase in funding for one time only because of these especially hard times,” Deputy Mayor Nancy Whitten said. “A lot of people who would normally give have given less because they can’t afford it or not given at all.”

The recipients include Athletes For Kids, AtWork!, Eastside Baby Corner, the Eastside Domestic Violence Program, Faith In Action, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Issaquah Church and Community Services, the Issaquah Schools Foundation, Life Enrichment Options and the Providence Marianwood Foundation.

Powered by gravity, steered by fun

July 20, 2010

More than 50 special-needs children suit up for 13th annual Rotary challenge race

By Greg Farrar Mary Hartung (left), co-driver, waves at the crowds and Caitlin Gaylord, driver, prepares to pilot their gravity car

On July 17, Second Avenue Southeast was transformed into a racetrack as soapbox cars full of grinning children whooshed down the hill in lieu of the usual streams of weekend traffic.

The road was closed off for the 13th annual Issaquah Rotary Challenge Gravity Car Race.

More than 50 special-needs children of all ages came to participate in the race as co-drivers. Each was accompanied by a driver, one- or two-dozen children ages 11-13 who were trained to operate the cars earlier in the day. Read more

Special Olympics nurtures an enthusiasm for sports

February 23, 2010

With her straight, brown hair tied in a ponytail, 11-year-old Abbey Powers threw her basketball into the air, bounced it against the backboard and grinned as it fell through the hoop.

Her teammates whooped and her father shouted words of encouragement before the ball even hit the ground.

While many children play basketball, Abbey is a special case. Doctors diagnosed her with both autism and cerebral palsy, although they never gave her family a clear diagnosis that would explain all of her challenges.

“It was unbelievable,” her father Jeff Powers said. “We were told she wouldn’t walk, we were told she wouldn’t talk, we were told she would only live to 2.”

Now a sixth-grader at Pine Lake Middle School, Abbey has a full schedule. Four years ago, her family enrolled her in Special Olympics for a children’s basketball class. At first, her parents only knew of practices in Woodinville, and would drive Abbey all the way from Issaquah so she could dribble the ball as part of a basketball team.

When they learned Issaquah offered a Special Olympics program in their own backyard, they were delighted, Jeff Powers said. But they’re not nearly as excited as Abbey.

“She got up extra early this morning,” her father said as he watched her and her friends play ball at the Issaquah Community Center. “She could hardly wait for basketball.”

Read more

Community leaders of tomorrow

February 23, 2010

Youth activism can lead to a better world

Teens today are changing the world one day and one life at a time and Issaquah youths are joining the movement.

Volunteering by 16- to 19-year-olds has more than doubled since 1989, from 13.4 percent to 28.4 percent, according to a 2007 report from The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that oversees service programs in the U.S. Volunteering by that age group is also 36 percent higher than it was in 1974, when it was 20.9 percent. Today, 8.2 million people ages 16-24 volunteer their time.

Mitchell Byron, a Liberty High School alumni who volunteered for Athletes for Kids and is deaf, is one of them.

“I want to give back to a community that has given so much to me,” he said.

Students are learning philanthropy at home; through community organizations, like Kiwanis and Rotary clubs; in children’s leadership groups; and in school, according to the agency’s reports.

Locally, there is an Issaquah School Board policy dedicated to ensuring students learn philanthropy before they graduate, said Superintendent Steve Rasmussen.

“Globally, we want kids to know that we’re in a world that they can impact, personally and in larger groups,” he said. “I want them to know what they do impacts the rest of the world, and it is incumbent upon them to be much wiser than my generation.”

Students in Issaquah have taken that message to heart, not just for their grades, but also in hopes of leaving their world better.

“We have to take action to see the outcome that we want,” said Lindsay Baringer, a senior at Issaquah High School who volunteers with the Issaquah Schools Foundation. “If you help out, the world will be a nicer place to live.”

Read more

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