by Shelby Durden
Jacksonville University Intern
Taylor Richardson is the 2016 HandsOn Youth in Action Award recipient. With more than 100 community service hours and more than 700 books donated to children through the community, Taylor is truly deserving of this award.
Taylor is a twelve year old who has already impacted more people in her short lifetime than some people do in their whole lives. As an aspiring astronaut who wants to visit Mars one day, she knows the meaning of hard work. She’s a an honor student at Fletcher Middle Gifted and Talented school, a triathlete, a girl scout with Gateway Council, student space ambassador for the nonprofit Mars Generation which is in itself an admirable track record for a 12 year old girl, but it’s what she does in her free time that makes her so special.
Taylor has always had a passion for reading and because of that she has always had a lot of books at her disposal. Reading has not always come easy for Taylor. . She has ADHD which some people look at as a disability, but instead, Taylor explains it as “Abundantly different, happily divine”. She had to work harder at reading than most, but she eventually perfected it despite the obstacles. As her reading ability grew stronger she wanted all kids to have that same reach and feel what it was like to overcome an obstacle. She felt that books could lead you, or make you take flight, to help you achieve your own dreams.
She realized that some kids didn’t have their own books to read and wanted to do something about that. Hence, Taylor’s “Take Flight with a Book” drive began in February of 2015 when she donated 175 books to the United Way’s Reading Pals Program. She has currently collected and donated a total of 700 books and is launching her 3rd drive this month with a goal of collecting 1,500 more books.
Her philanthropic work does not just stop with donating books. Taylor volunteer services include activities that impact the quality of life for children in Duval County. She advocates for literacy and anti-bullying initiatives. She reads to pre-kindergarten and elementary age children at the Johnson Family YMCA, various DCPS elementary schools, and the UNF pre-kindergarten program. Taylor has inspired young and mature audiences to read more about their possible dreams and aspirations. One of her most notable accomplishments was an anti-bullying public service announcement that featured various leaders in the corporate and nonprofit sectors speaking out about bullying.
Taylor is racking up so many awards for her achievements, and HandsOn Jacksonville is proud to present her with this year’s HandsOn Youth in Action Award!
PS: This month, Taylor received yet another award – this time from the Governor of Florida with the Champion of Service Award! Congratulations Taylor! Come out and celebrate Taylor and other volunteers who are making a difference at the Celebrate GOOD Festival on Sunday, April 17th from 2-6 at Friendship Fountain. Register for FREE admission at celebrategood.org.