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Valley Kids Honored With Chase Awards

This year’s annual Chase Youth Awards honor children from one end of the Spokane Valley to the other, for their acts of inspiration, compassion and creativity.

The awards from the Chase Youth Commission include categories for personal achievement, leadership, community service and creativity. Awards are made to youth and teens.

Valley winners include Danny Manners, a fifth-grader at Keystone Elementary, Ryan Mumma sixth-grader at Pratt Elementary, Megan Kurtz, a fifth-grader at Greenacres Elementary, Kasey Graham, a junior at Central Valley High School, and a group of 52 fifth- and sixth-graders at Broadway Elementary.

Manners won the personal achievement award. The fifth-grader uses a wheelchair, as he has a progressive spinal cord disease. Val Anderson, principal at Keystone, said in her nominating letter:

“His involvement in class activities is wonderful to watch. At recess, Danny has been seen chasing kids in a game of tag, driving his wheelchair through the snow to play kickball and letting the students ski-jog off the back of his chair.

“These are simple actions for most kids. For Danny it is an indication of his determination to take an active part in life…

“Danny’s positive attitude is helping a school full of children learn how to accept, with compassion, limitations and celebrate the strengths of all students.”

Anderson compared Danny to a Pied Piper. Though his health is fragile, “he just draws people to him because of his attitude.”

Mumma won for leadership. He has the gift of initiating and organizing activities, then taking the time to follow up with them, Pratt Principal Jeanne Baynes said in her nominating letter.

Ryan is a member of Pratt’s ASB cabinet. For two years, he served as a “peacemaker,” helping students with conflict resolution during lunch recess and helped monitor the halls during lunch. His leadership and social skills are an example for youth who are willing to be team players, Baynes said.

Kurtz won for community service. She volunteers on Saturdays helping two bowling teams from Lakeland Village. These adults are unable to handle a bowling ball. “She has taken them under her wing and loves to help them,” said Greenacres Elementary interventionist Virginia Elkington in her nominating letter.

Megan moved to Spokane from Montana two years ago and has struggled to adjust to her new school, Elkington said. She is often shy and withdrawn at school.

“But ask her what she did on Saturday, her face lights up and she smiles as she describes how she helped Bob or Skip or Darlene. She is animated and confident and competent,” Elkington said. “The Special Olympic bowling coaches rely on her.”

Graham, the teen winner for creativity, has unusual musical abilities. He sings, plays piano, composes music, is currently the music director for two musicals, and works with soloists and other student musicians in high school competitions. (Further information on the teen winners will appear on the Our Generation page in April.)

The Mission Stars from Broadway Elementary won the “Spirit of Jim Chase” group award, named for former Spokane Mayor Jim Chase, a strong advocate for youth.

The Mission Stars visit residents at the Mission Ridge Assisted Living Center every other Thursday after school. The youngsters help with crafts, share stories and just spend time with the residents.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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