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Column: All-America City awards

Posted: June 18, 2018 3:41 p.m.
Updated: June 19, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Since 1949, the National Civic League has recognized and celebrated the best in American civic innovation with the prestigious All-America City Award. The Award, bestowed yearly upon no more than 10 communities, recognizes the work of communities in using inclusive civic engagement to address critical issues and create stronger connections among residents, businesses and nonprofit and government leaders.

The All-America City Award shines a spotlight on the incredible work taking place in communities across the country. By celebrating the best in local innovation, civic engagement and cross-sector collaboration, the All-America City Award reminds us of potential within every community to tackle tough issues and create real change. Recently, with the input of many community leaders, we were able to write and send an application to tell “our story.” A story that illustrates how civic engagement and inclusivity are fundamental to who, and what, we are. An application that proves why it is always, “A Great Day in Kershaw County!”

Barely three months ago, Kershaw County learned that it had become a finalist for the 2018 All-America City Award. Since then, the PLAY Foundation board, along with 34 other community members, has been working over 10-15 hours every week to prepare a comprehensive community presentation.  This presentation will not only include a final 10 minute performance to a panel of judges, but will also encompass a far reaching social media campaign designed to communicate to the rest of the final communities just how great Kershaw County is.

On Thursday, those delegates will be traveling to Denver, Colo. to place our county on the national stage. Because there are so many wonderful things that happen every day in our county; it will be an honor to be able to showcase them and bring them to the attention of the National Civic League.

What truly makes this an amazing moment is the way our businesses, municipalities, industries and, most importantly, individuals all contributed not only their money, but their time to ensure that Kershaw County shines. And that illustrates what makes Kershaw County so special. The faith that we all have in one another. That faith has provided us the continued emotional support, encouragement and resources that has allowed us to tell the National Civic League, and America, that we are a community where civic engagement is part of our DNA.

We are a small community with a big heart. A place where Elgin’s police department offers its police car to the town of Bethune. Where non-profits help other non-profits. Where Habitat for Humanity of Kershaw County, Food for the Soul, Community Medical Clinic, Christian Community Ministries and the United Way will collaborate with others to ensure that all missions are broadened throughout the county. A community that demonstrates a message of love, compassion and acceptance. A message that is being heard across America. Just last week, we were notified by the National Civic League that Clinton Washington, one of our teen delegates, was nominated for a Youth Leadership Award. He is one of five youth from across America that have been nominated for this award. The recipient of this award will be announced at the same ceremony that will announce the recipients of the All-America City Award. The PLAY Foundation and the Kershaw County delegation are planning on bringing home both awards.

While we travel to Denver this week, we ask that you keep us in your prayers. In addition, we ask that you follow and share through our social media channels:

Facebook -- @theplayfoundation

Twitter -- @PLAYforYouth

Instagram -- theplayfoundation.

Throughout the weekend, we will be posting and keeping everybody updated at home. In addition, we would love to hear your cheers while we are representing Kershaw County.  We are scheduled to have our formal presentation on Sunday, June 24th at 9 a.m. (MT), which is 11 a.m. (EST). Later that evening, 10 communities will be announced as the All-America City and the National Youth Leadership Award will be presented. #AAC2018 #AACKershaw #NationalCivicLeague

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