McKinley Taylor of Wellington High School has been awarded the Congressional Award Gold Medal, Congress’ highest honor for civilian youth. This medal honors youth for their commitment to voluntary public service, as well as personal development and physical fitness.
Through the Congressional Award, Congress urges young people to challenge themselves. Any interested, motivated student, ages 14 through 24, may participate in the Congressional Award by setting and achieving individually challenging goals in four program areas: Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness and Expedition/Exploration. The Congressional Award adapts to meet the needs of every participant, as they set goals according to their own interests and level of abilities.
To earn this award, Taylor made cards for veterans, troops, nursing home patients and cancer patients, among other efforts.
“It made me so grateful for what I had,” she said. “I also made blankets for patients at St. Mary’s trauma hospital to learn a new skill and contribute to a worthwhile cause, too. These blankets also were given as a school project for migrant children at Hope Rural School’s PK4 to provide them warmth and something that just belongs to them. I came to appreciate my situation even more as a result of seeing first-hand what others were going through day in and day out. My last project was tutoring students in the math lab at school. My goal was to try and help as many people as I could throughout our community and spread the outreach beyond this area too.”
To earn the Gold Medal, each participant must complete at least 400 hours of voluntary public service, which means sharing their time and talent for the betterment of the community, 200 hours of personal development, which can include developing social and life skills as well as interests, and 200 hours of physical fitness, spent in any way that improves their health and quality of life. Additionally, they must spend at least five days and four nights exploring a new environment or culture.