Camden students recognized with national public service award

Several Camden middle school students recently proved that improving a community isn't limited to adults.

On Monday, St. Anthony of Padua's student Von Nieda Park task force received a Jefferson Award for Public Service - Youth Service Challenge, a national program that recognizes youth who are active in their communities.

The national recognition, along with the corresponding $500 cash prize, was a huge boost of encouragement for the youth, said Rev. Jud Weiksnar. 

For months, close to 10 middle school students from Cramer Hill's St. Anthony of Padua school have been meeting with city and county officials to discuss the various issues plaguing Von Nieda Park-- Graffitti, broken swings, missing hoops and garbage. The kids have succeeded in getting the county and city to clean up garbage in the park and put in new swings at the park, located a block away from the church and school. But the middle schoolers haven put some work in themselves-- painting benches and decorating them in an attempt to discourage graffiti.

The student task force plans to use half of the $500 for more park clean-up activities and the other half to fund a trip down to Washington D.C. to meet with other community organizing groups, Weiksnar said.