Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities is pleased to announce that Clinton Berry of Owensboro, KY has been named Smart Kids’ 2012 Fred J. Epstein Youth Achievement Award winner. The award recognizes outstanding accomplishments of a student with learning disabilities or ADHD. Berry, a senior at Owensboro High School, was selected from over 150 entrants from 42 states and Europe.
Eighteen-year-old Berry credits his reading and writing disabilities, identified in first grade, with motivating him to set high goals for himself, which have resulted in both academic and public service awards. In addition, Berry holds a Black Belt in Karate, and is a member of his high school golf team, concert band, and Owensboro’s Emergency First Responders. For his 2010 Eagle Scout project, he designed and built a 2,500 square foot rehabilitation center for bald eagles in Owensboro’s Yellow Creek Park. After high school, this accomplished teen plans to study engineering at Murray State University.
Berry will receive his $1,000 award at Smart Kids’12th Anniversary Benefit on June 8th at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk, CT. At that time, Smart Kids will also recognize the following students with LD for their accomplishments:
Special Recognition Award:
Elliott Sabbagh, 18, Ann Arbor, MI. Despite struggles with ADHD, Sabbagh is an accomplished violinist, who knew at the age of 11 that music would be his life’s work. In addition to playing classical and bluegrass violin, he has frequently co-hosted an Ann Arbor/Detroit hip-hop radio show since the age of 14, and performs as a DJ, MC and host at concerts with nationally known artists.
YAA Honorable Mention Winners:
Lauren Birbarie, 17, Branford CT. Birbarie overcame significant difficulties with reading comprehension and math at Ben Bronz Academy in West Hartford, CT, to earn the school’s highest award. Her legacy at Branford High School, from which she graduates this spring, is the founding of the alpine ski racing team, and her work in coaching younger children to love the sport as she does.
Izer Tuohey Martinez, 16, Oak Park, IL. After struggling at a number of schools that did not address his dyslexia, Martinez finally hit his stride at the Gow School in South Wales, NY. Starting there in 7th grade, he quickly became a school leader who has been on the honor roll every term. He is the first American to compete at the Canadian National Youth Poetry Slam Competition, and as a junior, he is captain of Gow’s varsity soccer and basketball teams.
Brian Meersma, 15, Princeton Junction, NJ. Meersma has mastered the use of assistive technology to deal with his disabilities in reading and writing—and has inspired others to do so as well, through his blog and presentations. He has been invited to join the National Advisory Board of Bookshare, a global leader in providing digital accessible books to people with print disabilities.
Alexandra Siegele, 18, Berwyn, PA. Adopted from Russia at age 4, Siegele has struggled with dyslexia throughout her schooling. She has relied on her love for art and jewelry design, and her strength as captain of her high school rowing team—as well as her indomitable spirit—to earn high honors despite her difficulties, and will enter Tufts University next fall.
Junior Achievement Award:
Maxence Mouries, 9, Falls Church, VA. Already an accomplished violinist, Mouries is the first elementary-school student ever accepted in the Student Symphonic Orchestra of Fairfax, becoming assistant concertmaster at the age of 8.
Junior Special Recognition Award:
Daniel De Chucho Estruch-Gonzalez, 11, Vienna, Austria. Rejected by major choir schools in England because of his severe dyslexia, he was the first English boy accepted at the Vienna Boys Choir Junior School, and joined the world-famous Vienna Boys Choir in the fall of 2011.
Junior Achievement Award Honorable Mention:
Cameron Shockley-Okeke, 11, Norwalk, CT. A gifted sixth grader at the United Nations International School in New York City, Cameron struggles with ADHD. He plays AAU basketball in addition to travel soccer and baseball for Norwalk teams, and assists the Youth Leader at Norwalk’s Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.
Congratulations to all the 2012 Smart Kids Youth Achievement Award winners and honorees. They’re an inspiration to all parents and professionals who know that children with LD and ADHD can achieve great things!