WASHINGTON — More than two dozen young people will be celebrated Wednesday night during the Right Direction Awards in D.C. The initiative is meant to celebrate resiliency, leadership and achievements. Attorney General Brian Schwalb announced 30 award recipients from across the District's eight wards.
“Young people across the District everyday are doing extraordinary things, often against extraordinary odds. At the Office of the Attorney General, we recognize the importance of elevating, highlighting and celebrating positive youth achievements so they can become the next generation of changemakers and leaders,” said AG Schwalb in a press statement. “We understand it is critical to listen to young people and incorporate their perspectives into our work. Each of tonight’s awardees fills me with inspiration – they are proof that the District’s future – and indeed our country’s future – is bright.”
The 30 people selected for the 2023 awards demonstrated perseverance through adversity, acted as change agents and leaders, and worked to have a positive impact on their community and improve the lives of others.
One of those people is 20-year-old Termane Jay Jr. He is a mentor at Life Pieces to Masterpieces, an arts-based youth development organization based in Ward 7. Jay grew up in Ward 7 and sees his role as "helping children become the best version of themselves."
At Life Pieces, Jay works closely with 3- and 4-year-old boys, offering them kindness, reassurance, and reminding them that it is okay to express their emotions.
Another awardee is 17-year-old Shakayla Clark-Day. She overcame being homeless at a young age, and is now involved with an organization called Shoes for the Homeless, where she collects shoes for homeless men, women and children. She then donates them to those in need.
Since establishing the Right Direction Awards in 2015, the Office of the Attorney General has recognized over 175 young people as Right Direction Award recipients.
Here's a full list of this year's recipients:
- Aniya Coffey, 17 years old, Ward 8
- Termane Jay Jr., 20 years old, Ward 7
- Nyzear Allen, 14 years old, Ward 8
- Nieja Green, 19 years old, Ward 4
- Tyrik Barrett, 18 years old, Ward 8
- Simaya Hammond, 17 years old, Ward 7
- Colette Gregg, 14 years old, Ward 5
- Donnie Coleman, 18 years old, Ward 7
- Derek Stevens, 23 years old, Ward 4
- Ana Bonilla, 20 years old, Ward 4
- Cateo Hilton, 19 years old, Ward 7
- Tre'Von Davis, 22 years old, Ward 7
- Leia Stephens, 19 years old, Ward 7
- Ja’Sean Davis, 18 years old, Ward 7
- Silas Alemayehu, 17 years old, Ward 7
- Justice Thurston, 22 years old, Ward 8
- Audriauna Penny, 18 years old, Ward 8
- Tory'elle Coleman, 19 years old, Ward 7
- Amina Gassaway, 19 years old, Ward 7
- Najah Brooks, 20 years old, Ward 5
- Alicia Heredia, 20 years old, Ward 3
- Lynni Thomas, 17 years old, Ward 8
- Charley Anderson, 17 years old, Ward 5
- Shakayla Clark-Day, 17 years old, Ward 5
- Daneiell Bigby, 18 years old, Ward 8
- Francisco Borges, 20 years old, Ward 1
- Stanford Fitzgerald, 17 years old, Ward 5
- Cenia Barrera, 16 years old, Ward 7
- Arayah Shelton, 17 years old, Ward 8
- Kemry Hughes - Youth Empowerment Recognition Award
The award ceremony will be livestreamed beginning at 6 p.m. on Facebook Live, here.