Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) partnered with Denny’s Hungry for Education program to grant six scholarships totaling $9,000 to young people with disabilities. Scholarship winners included members of the PYD community and students with disabilities nationwide who exemplified the values and mission of PYD. The winners will be honored at a virtual celebration hosted by Denny’s on April 29, 2021.
Launched in 2011 to fight childhood hunger and promote education, the Hungry for Education program provides scholarships to students based on their ideas for Denny’s to bring communities together. Each of the winners described how Denny’s could increase the inclusivity of communities, a goal of PYD. The scholarships will be used for continuing education expenses.
“It’s an opportunity for a student that’s differently-abled with cerebral palsy and a young man of color to expand my sights on furthering my education while attending college and majoring in the field of biochemical engineering,” said Diego, a senior at T.C. Roberson High in Asheville, NC. The Air Force Junior ROTC Cadet Technical Sergeant has volunteered at the Veterans Restoration Quarter and a food pantry at his local church. Diego suggested that Denny’s bring communities of all ages together through virtual events of poetry, stories, music, and games.
Lexington, MA native Lillian, an incoming freshman at High Point University and National Miss Amazing Teen Queen of 2019 – 2020, has engaged in public speaking across the country to help organizations that support people living with disabilities. She dreams of working as a disability lawyer to promote greater inclusion for all. “Winning this award makes me feel like my voice is being heard by an incredibly powerful platform,” said the Massachusetts poet. “Hopefully someday every disabled person will feel this way.”
Anthony, a senior at Boston Community Leadership Academy who plans to attend UMass Boston, said that winning the scholarship is a great honor and privilege. While school has not been easy for Anthony, he realized during his senior year what steps he needs to take to achieve his goals, and as a result he’s more positive and motivated. “I have overcome my insecurities and will be very successful in the future,” said Anthony. He hopes to become a Japanese teacher.
“Partners for Youth with Disabilities and Denny’s value and believe in me and others with disabilities and our educational goals,” said Austin, a North Shore Community College freshman and Winthrop, MA resident studying child and youth advocacy. The 2018 PYD Chris Dunne Peer Leadership Award recipient and public speaker hopes to raise awareness about what people with disabilities can bring to their jobs, and specifically mentor young people about their value in society.
Tom, a senior at New England Academy, plans to study communication to continue a lifetime of disability advocacy. “Winning this scholarship meant that I got a real sense of contributing to my community, despite the pandemic,” he said. The National Honors Society member and Newton (MA) All-City Troubadour has represented the Franciscan Hospital for Children when lobbying for accessible healthcare in front of congressional representatives and facilitated a mental health awareness day at his high school.
“Winning this award means that no matter how small or big your community is, you can make a difference and be heard,” said Bryanna, a Gainsville, FL resident and University of Florida freshman studying women’s studies and psychology. “I am just grateful I was able to talk about bringing family and communities together.” The Future Business Leaders of America member and foster animal volunteer hopes to research and educate others on the food, health, and nutritional disparities among communities.
All six scholarship winners have demonstrated great leadership and success in their communities. PYD is excited to see what they will achieve next.
This article was written by the BU PR Lab