Katie Cowie and Olivia Smith receive the national Prudential Spi - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Katie Cowie and Olivia Smith receive national Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

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A Cabell County high school student from Milton and a Wood County middle school student from Belleville  have been named top youth volunteers of 2014 by the national Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.  

Katie Cowie, a 17-year-old senior at Cabell Midland High School in Ona raised money for a variety of causes such as providing shelter for homeless families and helping women quit prostitution by making and selling "tie-knot" blankets through her own non-profit "Blossom."

"I cannot explain the love I now feel for those in my community," said Katie.

Olivia Smith, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Blennerhassett Junior High in Parkersburg, is an advocate for youth and adults with disabilities in her community by serving as a mentor and teacher, and encouraging others to use respectful language when referring to people with disabilities.

"People shouldn't be judged by their disability but should be recognized as a person just like everyone else," said Olivia.

As State Honorees, Katie and Olivia each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C. where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2014.

The program judges also recognized two other West Virginia students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion. Kristen Falconi, a 14-year-old student from University High School in Morgantown raised $2,300 to support the West Virginia University Randolph Cancer Center mobile mammography unit. Peter Welcker, a 17-year-old from Parkersburg South High School in Parkersburg conducted scientific research to find a way to remove the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from food and water.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, created in 1995, are designed to emphasize the importance on service to others and to encourage all young Americans to contribute to their communities. More than 100,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level.

For more information, contact the Office of Communication at (304) 558-2699.