Nearly 20 Bellevue youth have been selected to receive awards for the 29th annual Community Leadership Awards sponsored by Bellevue Youth Link.
Bellevue Youth Link is a leadership program sponsored by the city of Bellevue parks and community service department and Bellevue Public Schools. Since 1990, Bellevue Youth Link has engaged young people in the community and given them opportunities to make a difference.
The Community Leadership Awards honor youth who have done something extraordinary in their communities — championed a cause, overcome personal obstacles or advocated for a more supportive and inclusive community for all.
New categories have been added to this year’s Community Leadership Awards to recognize and celebrate the diversity of the city’s youth and diverse forms of leadership.
A full list of categories can be found online at www.youthlink.com.
Patrick Alina, Youth Link program coordinator and PCS diversity liaison for Bellevue parks and community services, said the changes in this year’s awards categories was to better recognize different forms of leadership.
“We shifted some of the categories from academic leadership to that of diversity leadership or advocacy leadership,” he said. “We wanted to recognize different forms of leadership.”
According to Alina, youth can be nominated by anyone, including teachers, mentors, parents, coaches and other students.
Alina encourages students to nominate other students.
“It gives them an opportunity to recognize their peers,” he said.
Each year, Youth Link receives about 200 nominations. Members of Youth Link then go through the nominations and make their selections.
“Having members of Youth Link pick the winners of the awards allows them to see the authenticity of the people and the nominations,” he said.
The following people were honored at the annual Community Leadership Awards celebration on Wednesday, May 29, at Bellevue City Hall.
Advocacy for Cultural & Heritage Pride: Ren Watanabe, International School
Advocacy for Social Justice – Individual: Jay Robles, Big Picture School
Advocacy for Social Justice – Group: Bending the Arc, Bellevue High School
Advocacy for Education: Andrea Liao, Interlake High School
Advocacy for Family Support: Luis Rodriguez, Interlake High School
Advocacy for Sports & Recreation: Kevin Powell, Sherwood Forest Elementary School
Advocacy for Inclusivity & Allyship: Leonardo Salas Ramos, Interlake High School
Advocacy for Inclusivity & Allyship: Michelle Egli, Bellevue High School
Environmental Champion: Victoria Christopher, Bellevue High School
Excellence in Youth Arts: Arjan Dillon, International School
Outstanding Creative & Innovative Thinker: Sakhi Bhandaru, International School
Outstanding Elementary School Student: Akilah Kayanda, Sherwood Forest Elementary School
Outstanding Middle School Student: Harrison Prow, Chinook Middle School
Outstanding High School Student: Raia Karmali, Newport High School
Outstanding Youth Volunteer: Guadalupe Aliseda-Canton, Newport High School
Unsung Hero: Zain Bhatti, Sherwood Forest Elementary School