‘Buddy Bench’ creator receives national Power of Children award

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WANE) – The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis announced its 2021 national awardees for the Power Of Children Awards.

The honor recognizes and rewards students in grades 6-11 “who are improving the lives of others through a selfless commitment to service and the betterment of their local communities, villages and cities around the world.”

A Fort Wayne girl received the honor. Samantha Vance was named one of the recipients of the award from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

Sammie, who will be in the 7th grade at Blackhawk Middle School, is one of five recipients. She is the only one from Indiana.

Her “Buddy Bench Project” is what helped her receive the award. It’s helped put benches in more than 150 schools, 12 parks, and the Fort Wayne Boys and Girls Club. The benches are an easy way for children to let other kids know they’re looking for someone to play with.

“When you are kind, all of those around you benefit. I have inspired not only my community but groups all over the US and around the world,” said Sammie. “The project encourages community, kids and adults coming together for a great purpose.”

Sammie also hosts an inspirational podcast every week called Sammie Smiles. She also authored a book, “Inspire the World: A Kid’s Journey to Making a Difference.”

On November 12th, the museum will honor all the Power of Children recipients. They will be presented with a $2,500 grant to invest in their social action project. The students will also receive a partial university scholarship from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the University of Indianapolis or Butler University in Indianapolis.

Sammie said she will be using her grant to get her book “into the hands of kids that can’t afford them as she delivers her inspirational message through school events, and to assist with the cost of adding buddy benches in communities that can’t cover the entire cost of bench production and transportation.”

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