Minnesota Alliance with Youth

Red Wagon Awards Honor Leadership, Achievement, and Service

Minnesota Alliance With Youth and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, Yvonne Prettner Solon, were pleased to host the 11th annual Red Wagon Awards on June 9 at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. The Red Wagon Awards recognize and celebrate outstanding youth leadership and civic engagement throughout the state of Minnesota. Recipients are nominated for their civic engagement and service, academic achievement, and exemplary leadership, and awards are given to both individuals and groups of young people who are working to create change in their communities.

Lapresha Collins-Melton accepting her Red Wagon Award
Lapresha Collins-Melton accepting her Red Wagon Award

Award winners and their friends and family were welcomed to the event by the delightful sounds of a St. Olaf College jazz combo, turning out cool tunes at their post overlooking the pink flamingo exhibit. While they waited for the ceremony to begin, guests enjoyed a macaroni and cheese bar and connected with other youth from across the state. Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon congratulated the award winners, sharing her thoughts on hard work and commitment, describing how the dreams of The Beatles and Bill Gates were brought to fruition by their relentless dedication and determination. She commended the award winners on their passion, saying, “You are here today because you are already showing a similar commitment. By working hard and staying focused, you can achieve your goals. And there has never been a more exciting time to dream and achieve.”

Minnesota Alliance With Youth President and CEO Sarah Dixon, along with the Lt. Governor and Alliance Board of Directors Co-chairs Aimee Vue and Julie Plaut, handed each winner a certificate and miniature red wagon, symbolizing the dreams and the promise of young people. This year, ten individual winners and five group winners were selected by a panel of Minnesota Youth Council members, Minnesota Alliance With Youth board members, and AmeriCorps Promise Fellows and Supervisors.

Individual award winners come from all over the state of Minnesota:

• Vineetha Adams and Delphin Niyonkuru (Minneapolis)

• Courtney Bunker (Naytahwaush)

• Lapresha Collins-Melton (New Brighton)

• Christian Levings (Proctor)

• Kyle Kennedy, Kevin Nguyen, and Soua Thao (St. Paul)

• Ben Doeden and Desalegn Zemenfes (Worthington)

The group award recipients include youth who engage and support youth leadership, civic engagement, and academic success:

• Barnum Area Youth Group (Moose Lake)

• Funky Minds, Interns (Carver)

• Royalton High School, YES! Team (Royalton)

• Harriet Bishop Elementary Service Club (Savage)

• Northfield Union of Youth, The Key Youth Board (Northfield)

 Royalton YES! Team recognized for their community service at the Red Wagon Awards
Royalton YES! Team recognized for their community service at the Red Wagon Awards

Alliance Board Youth Co-chair Aimee Vue andHonorary Board Co-chair Lt. Governor Prettner Solon were awarded Minnesota Alliance With Youth Star Partner awards in recognition of their tremendous dedication to youth development and engagement. Additionally, two youth were recognized with the Ann K. Johnson Award and Scholarship, in memory of former Alliance board member and champion of youth, Ann Johnson, who passed away in 2013.

As always, the Alliance is thrilled to have the opportunity to honor the tremendous accomplishments of youth in our state. “The Red Wagon Awards is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the meaningful commitments young people make to volunteer service throughout Minnesota,” says Sarah Dixon. “This year’s award winners have contributed to the well-being of our communities in inspiring ways.”