The Champion Award is presented by the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance to Youth Volunteers in support of the YMCAs commitment to Nurturing the Potential of Every Child and Teen. We celebrate these unsung heroes of our local YMCAs who bring our core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility to life through their dedication and energy. Helping young people understand the importance of service to others has always been at the core of our mission.

Prachi Patel, a 16-year-old student, has single-handedly created a Community Service Club for Teens called Junior InVision.  Based on her belief in giving back to the community, Prachi recruits teens to offer their time and services to those in need.  By coordinating the efforts of volunteers through her network, she ensures that the community is able to receive the diverse support they need to feel healthy, connected and secure.  The Program helps teens gain leadership skills, learn more about their community and the world, receive volunteer hours, network with others and show prospective colleges that they are committed individuals.  Prachi is not just limiting her “vision” to the immediate community; she wants to help people in third world countries as well.

Prachi was very excited to learn recently that she received approval from the Superintendent of Schools to move forward with her program.  Prachi immediately began marketing her program through the distribution of brochures at local high schools, posting flyers on virtual backpacks on school websites, and setting up informational tables at YMCA events.  So far, Prachi has recruited 30 teens to join Junior InVision and this number is growing everyday!  Her first project is to collect school textbooks to send to indigent students in India.

Her dedication, sense of responsibility and deeply ingrained core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility mirror the mission statement of the YMCA.  She is an inspiration and role model for teens everywhere, and the epitome of the word CHAMPION.