Abbie Weeks, a 2017 graduate of Cherry Creek High School, has been named a 2017 winner of the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. The award celebrates inspiring public-spirited young people from diverse backgrounds all across North America.
Established in 2001 by author T.A. Barron, the Barron Prize annually honors 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive impact on people, their communities and the environment.
Weeks created Ecological Action, a nonprofit that provides solar energy to underprivileged communities and advocates for sustainability through education and political action.
Her team has installed solar panels for a school at Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project in rural Uganda and for a U.S. military veterans home on the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation in South Dakota.
Weeks’s group, which she launched three years ago, has also replaced her high school’s cafeteria styrofoam trays with reusable ones and is working with town officials to place a fee on single-use plastic bags. When Weeks was introduced to the founder of Nyaka and learned of the school’s need for reliable electricity, she saw it as the perfect opportunity to pair her passions for environmental sustainability and human-rights advocacy.
She set to work raising the $10,000 needed for the project, organizing and performing in a classical benefit concert called Notes for Nyaka. She then purchased the photovoltaic system and worked with a local trade school to learn how to install it.
With 800 pounds of supplies packed in their luggage, Weeks, a friend, and three teachers lugged the gear through airports from Denver to Kampala and then drove it the final 10 hours to Nyaka.
After two weeks and a great deal of creative problem-solving, the school had electricity.
Weeks has since forged a partnership with Grid Alternatives, a nonprofit solar company that is providing training and support for her continuing solar projects.
“Through environmental and humanitarian action, each of us can improve our piece of the world,” she said.
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