Sister Cities International Announces Winners of 2016 Annual Awards for Innovation in Youth and Education

WASHINGTON, DC –The 2016 Sister Cities International Innovation Award for Youth and Education recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding community and individual sister city programs that promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation.

The award was given to SCI organizations in three cities in different population categories. Sister Cities of Wilmington, Inc. (SCW) of Wilmington, Deleware won for cities of under 100,000 people; Bellevue Sister Cities Association (BSCA) of Bellevue, Washington won among cities with population under 500,000 and Phoenix Sister Cities (PSC) of Phoenix, Arizona won among cities with population over 500,000.

SCW was recognized for the Wilmington Children’s Chorus’ (WCC) exchange visit to Fulda, Germany. The WCC is a multi-cultural children’s choir founded by the City of Wilmington, under Mayor James M. Baker, as a project of Cityfest, Inc., in the Office of Cultural Affairs. In 2015, the exchange program took 47 high-school age members of the WCC’s Chamber Choir to Fulda to stay with host families and visit friends from the Fulda Youth Chamber Orchestra (KdjF) after their visit to Wilmington in 2013. At the end of the trip, the WCC and KdjF performed a free concert together with music spanning the 17th through the 20th centuries from both the American and European continents, including Mozart, Engelbert Humperdinck, and Aaron Copland, as well as three show and traditional American songs.

BSCA won for its teacher exchange program with Liepaja, Latvia, which began in 1998 to provide opportunities for their educators involved with special needs students to visit a cross-section of programs available in Bellevue. In 2015, BSCA began to help provide the school with a handicapped playground available not only to the students at the school but for the surrounding population as well. The main structure and landscaping has now been completed and is enjoyed by many special needs youth in the school and surrounding area.

PSC focuses on facilitating people-to-people relationships through international engagement and cultural exchange initiatives for Phoenix’s youth. In 2015, PSC hosted several youth and ambassador programs including the Youth Ambassador Exchange Program, Teach Abroad – Himeji, Japan, a college internship program, the Taipei Chinese Culture Summer Camp, the Youth Ambassador Alumni Association, the Youth Ambassador Big Buddy program, the Phoenix Sister Cities Economic Ambassador Exchange Program, the “Mini-Ambassador” exchange program, and a youth baseball exchange in Taipei, Taiwan.

SCI’s Annual Awards are awarded in several categories including Best Overall, Innovation (Arts and Culture, Economic Development, Humanitarian Assistance, and Youth and Education), and Volunteer of the Year. Award winners will be honored at the Lou Wozar Diplomatic Awards Dinner on Saturday, July 16 during SCI’s 60th Anniversary Celebration in Washington, DC. 

SCI’s 60th anniversary celebration will include an Annual Conference and Youth Leadership Summit in Washington, DC July 13-16, 2016. The celebration will bring together hundreds of the most influential global leaders in diplomacy, foreign affairs, policy, business, and innovation. Elected and municipal officials, business leaders, youth delegates, and citizen diplomats will discuss this year’s theme “Peace through People,” building on President Eisenhower’s initial vision of creating a more peaceful world by building global relationships. 

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About Sister Cities International 

Founded as a Presidential Initiative by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, Sister Cities International serves as the national membership organization for 570 member communities with 2,300 partnerships in 150 countries on six continents. The sister city network unites tens of thousands of citizen diplomats and volunteers who work tirelessly to promote the organizations’ mission of creating world peace and understanding through economic development, youth and education, arts and culture, and humanitarian assistance. 

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