The 2021 “Kids Who Make Magic Awards” are sponsored by The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital and in part by Crystal Auto Mall, Toyota and Mazda and Magyar Bank.
LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR WINNERS!
3rd PLACE: KATE
Nominated by Mom, Trish
Many kids aren’t sure how to interact with children with differing abilities, but one of Kate’s priorities is ensuring that students with special needs feel welcome and supported at school. From competing on the Unified Track Team, which pairs athletes with special needs with a general education partner, to serving as a peer buddy for a student with multiple disabilities in gym class, to participating in the Unified Club and Power of One Friend group at school, Kate has developed meaningful friendships with students who have a range of different needs, and always helps to make sure that they are included and supported.
2nd PLACE: SERGIO
Nominated by Mom, Pamela
Sergio is an extremely shy kid but that hasn’t stopped him from trying to make a difference. He’s been an honor roll student since 2nd grade and in addition to joining Boy Scouts this year, he also started volunteering at a local cat rescue. Sergio helps feed the cats, clean their cages, collect donations and socialize the kittens while they wait to be adopted. While conquering his social anxiety he plans to collect as many donations for the cat rescue as possible. He is a kind, loving and sweet boy who has a soft spot for all animals!
1st PLACE: RIYA
Nominated by Mom, Sushmita
Riya, founder of Purple Paint leading Girl’s Dignity and Empowerment Project
Fifteen years old Riya Dad heech pledged to build 500 toilets in schools in India. Her mission is simply to make sure every girl gets the education they deserve. Riya strongly believes that every girl has a right to education.
Riya is a rising sophomore school girl, and lives in Parsippany, NJ. A couple of years ago during a visit to India, Riya met a girl named Aisha, who had dreams of becoming a doctor but had to drop out of the school due to lack of toilets in her school. Later, more girls narrated a similar story. Riya was moved by the plight of the girls in India who dropout of school because of no toilet in the school and due to unhygienic conditions. She decided to solve the problem at her level …much above the level of a teenager. Riya decided to help by using her artistic skills to raise the funds to support these girls. She pledged to build 500 toilets. And then the project “Girl’s Dignity and Empowerment” was born.
Riya is gifted with a talent for drawing and painting. She can bring life to any subject of nature. Riya uses her artistic skills to help others. She sells her paintings and donates 100% back to various charities supporting children with special needs and supporting children’s education. As they say, “Purple Patch” is when you have a streak of good luck and great times. Similarly, Riya says, “I want to spread a little bit of Purple in the lives of other children”. And that is how “Purple Paint” was created.
During summer of 2019 (just before COVID) when every other kid was playing and vacationing, Riya was working hard creating her paintings. She made 48 paintings, out of which 35 were sold in an exclusive art exhibition and silent auction facilitated by Parsippany Mayor, Michael Soriano. All the proceeds, $10,000 went to support Girl’s Dignity and Empowerment project.
Since then she got onto the mission with Girl’s Dignity and Empowerment Project, taking the message to different forums and groups. She speaks at different events spreading the word about her project. She believe as more people joins this movement and support it, she will be able to accelerate the progress of this project. Riya does all this in addition to her regular school and other activities. In addition to being a great painter, Riya is also a great dancer
So far Riya is able to build around 62 toilets. She has been able to impact the lives of over 3,000 girl students and is planning on building 100 more toilets in the coming year (hope COVD will cooperate). That will impact another 5000 girls. Riya says “This may sound great but it is not enough. I need everyone’s help and support and together we can make sure each and every young girl is given the equal opportunity to go to school. The future of these girls is at stake and we need to work harder to make sure they are able to go to school.” Riya plans to expand this work to other countries e.g. Nepal, Pakistan and several countries in Africa
Now, Riya is creating new art work in preparation for the upcoming Art Exhibition and Silent Exhibition in June 2022.
In addition to “Girl’s Dignity and Empowerment” project, Riya supported local communities during COVID. When everything was falling apart in the middle of 2020 due to COVID, Riya founded “Classes 4 A Cause” to raise funds to help local food Pantries (Parsippany Food Pantry, Interfaith Food Pantry etc.). She organized online classes and raised over $5000 (and over 4000 pounds of food) that was donated to several local food pantries.
To learn more about Riya and her work, please visit her website www.purplepaint.org.