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“It Put Us on the Map”: A Former Barron Prize Winner and Current Judge Shares the Significance of Winning the Barron Prize
We love following our Barron Prize young heroes as they grow their projects and find ways to do even more good in the world. Such is the case with Ashley Shuyler Carter, who was among our very first prize winners back in 2001. At that time, she was a determined 16-year-old who had just launched AfricAid to support girls’ education in Africa.
In the 17 years since, Ashley has worked tirelessly to develop AfricAid into a highly-regarded non-profit that is providing young women in Africa with the opportunity to transform their own lives and the futures of their communities. We so admire her continuing commitment to her cause and so appreciate her help as a Barron Prize judge.
Ashley recently shared with us what winning the Barron Prize has meant to her.
The Barron Prize means a great deal to me and has had a very significant impact on my life, both personally and professionally. When I came back from Tanzania at the age of 11, I was on fire with the idea to do something to support the amazing – but impoverished – people I had met there. I encountered so many obstacles along the way and was explicitly told there was very little a young person could do to truly make a difference.
When I was finally able to start AfricAid to support girls’ education there, I was unsure of how much of a difference we could make – although I was hopeful. The Barron Prize truly put us on the map and gave AfricAid the credibility we needed to more confidently ask people to join with us and believe in us. Perhaps more importantly, it gave me the confidence that this could truly be “something” and I could truly be “something.” I honestly don’t know if AfricAid would be where it is today (17 years later!) if it weren’t for the Barron Prize, and I certainly don’t know that I would have followed my path and heart in the same way either.
Finally, I will just say that the Barron Prize stands for so much that is good in this world: hope, kindness, generosity, and the belief that everyone can be special and heroic in their own ways (even if not obvious on the surface to others). For me, it’s truly special to get to be a part of something — and a part of a group of people — that see and approach the world in that way.
The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes celebrates inspiring, public-spirited young people from diverse backgrounds all across North America. Each year, the Barron Prize honors 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive difference to people and the environment.