Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities Names 2012 Youth Achievement Award Winners

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Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, Inc. (SKLD) is pleased to announce the winner of its ninth annual Youth Achievement Award, recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of a student with learning disabilities or ADHD. Clinton Berry of Owensboro, KY will accept the Award at the nonprofit organization’s 12th Anniversary Benefit on June 8th, at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk, CT.

My most fulfilling accomplishment was gaining the respect and acceptance of my peers. I am no longer the invisible shy kid. I am now known as the Smart Kid with a disability.

Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, Inc. (SKLD) is pleased to announce the winner of its ninth annual Youth Achievement Award, recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of a student with learning disabilities or ADHD. Clinton Berry of Owensboro, KY will accept the $1,000 Award at the nonprofit organization’s 12th Anniversary Benefit on June 8th, at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk, CT. A senior at Owensboro High School, Berry was selected from over 150 entrants in the annual contest conducted by SKLD, the nonprofit organization based in Westport, CT.

Berry, 18, credits his reading and writing disabilities, identified in first grade, with motivating him to set high goals for himself. Getting individualized help in addition to using assistive technology, and his own hard work allowed Berry to catch up with his peers academically in middle school. He has been honored with both academic and public service awards, holds a Black Belt in Traditional Karate, and is a member of his high school golf team, concert band, and Owensboro’s Emergency First Responders. For his 2010 Eagle Scout project, he designed and built a 2500 square foot rehabilitation center for bald eagles in Owensboro’s Yellow Creek Park. He will study engineering at Murray State University next fall.

Elliott Sabbagh, 18, of Ann Arbor, MI will accept a 2012 Special Recognition Award for outstanding achievement. Struggling with ADHD, Sabbagh became an accomplished violinist, and knew at the age of 11 that music would be his life’s work. In addition to playing classical and bluegrass violin, he has co-hosted an Ann Arbor/Detroit hip-hop radio show since the age of 14, and performs as a DJ, MC and host at concerts with nationally known artists.

Youth Achievement Award Honorable Mention winners include Lauren Birbarie, 17, of Branford CT, a senior at Branford High School; Izer Tuohey Martinez, 16, of Oak Park, IL, a junior at The Gow School in South Wales, NY; Brian Meersma, 15, of Princeton Junction, NJ, a sophomore at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School in Princeton Junction; and Alexandra Siegele, 18, of Berwyn, PA, a senior at Conestoga Senior High School.

Additional winners include:
Maxence Mouries, 9, of Falls Church, VA, started violin lessons to help channel his energy when he was diagnosed with ADHD at age 5. He will receive a Junior Achievement Award for his academic success and his accomplishments as a violinist: The first elementary-school student ever accepted in the Student Symphonic Orchestra of Fairfax, he became assistant concertmaster at the age of 8.

Daniel De Chucho Estruch-Gonzalez, 11, of Vienna, Austria will receive a Junior Special Recognition Award. Rejected by major choir schools in England because of his severe dyslexia, he was the first English boy accepted at the Vienna Boys Choir Junior School, and joined the world-famous Vienna Boys Choir in the fall of 2011.

Cameron Shockley-Okeke, 11, of Norwalk, CT will receive a Junior Achievement Award Honorable Mention. A gifted 6th-grader at the United Nations International School in New York City, Cameron struggles with ADHD. He plays AAU basketball in addition to travel soccer and baseball for Norwalk teams, and assists the Youth Leader at Norwalk’s Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.

The longtime co-chairs of the SKLD Youth Achievement Award Committee, Suzanne Fields of Westport, CT and Maryann Beltz of Woodbridge, CT were joined this year by Dr. Devon MacEachron, the co-director of the Connecticut Center for Exceptional Children in Madison, CT.

About Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, Inc.:
Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering parents of children with learning disabilities (LD) and attention-deficit disorder (ADHD) through providing information, guidance, and support while also educating the public about these children’s significant gifts and talents. Henry Winkler, the famed actor, director and producer and author of the Hank Zipzer book series about a boy with learning disabilities and ADHD, serves as the organization's Honorary Chairman.

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