Lynn, MA–June 24,2020– Five rising eighth graders at KIPP Academy Lynn middle school were awarded the “Make a Difference” Award from the JFK Presidential Library and Museum. Each year, the Library recognizes up to 100 middle school students from across Massachusetts with the award for the impact they have made in their communities through service projects. This year nineteen students across the State were selected. The winners from KIPP are: Rachel Washington, Tamie Dinh, Densel Gomez, Cristian Garcia Bermudez, and Leila Barhmy. In past years, the winners have been honored with an in-person ceremony at the Library, but due to COVID-19, the winners were notified with a video message and will be mailed their certificates.
The students were nominated by John Kane, a committed KIPP volunteer who works with small groups of students in the middle school on community service projects and other activities. As part of the Operation FunD program created by the Lynch-Van Otterloo YMCA in Marblehead, the students worked together to apply for a grant for $2,500 to address a community issue. They decided to use education to address racism, bullying, drug abuse, and domestic abuse, and worked with other community organizations including the Lynn YMCA, RAW Arts, Girls Inc., and Healing Abuse, Working for Change (HAWC). They are partnering with RAW Arts to design a billboard on the Lynnway or in Downtown Lynn with an inspirational message and design to address the issues, create flyers to distribute throughout the community, and have student-led discussions on the issues. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the grant process and ultimate implementation of the project have been delayed, and both are expected to be completed during the next academic year.
“While the students deserve so much credit for their hard work and creativity, so do the non-profits,” said Mr. Kane, “starting with the Lynch-Van Otterloo YMCA Operation FunD program, the four Lynn organizations, and ultimately the Kennedy Library. Especially under current circumstances, there is no more hopeful and powerful message than that kids partnering with concerned adults truly can make a difference.”