Absolutely Incredible Kid Day was on Thursday, March 18. Fall River celebrated all of the kids of the city on that day, but there was one who truly stood out and was recognized for how amazing she really is.

According to a recent press release, Mayor Paul Coogan, along with the School-Community Partnership, announced that Ashley De Pina Nunes is the 2021 Fall River Youth of the Year. “Sponsored by Partners for a Healthier Community, the award is designed to recognize and encourage the contributions and excellence of the young people of Fall River who have built their character and competence through the fulfillment of America’s Promises.”

Ms. De Pina Nunes is a soon-to-be graduate of Durfee High School and was one of 11 finalists for the 2021 Fall River Youth of the Year Award from Durfee High School, Diman Regional Vocational Tech High School, and Bishop Connolly High School.

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The award is a three-part process:

  1. A nomination by a caring adult
  2. An essay by the youth nominated
  3. An interview

According to the release, the nominations are based on “personal achievement, leadership abilities, extracurricular activities, healthy living, effective learning opportunities, and/or community involvement.” The essay followed a prompt that asked the students to take a hard look at this past year and note how they “had been able to overcome the obstacles of the pandemic with their dedication to the community and commitment to helping others.”

After reading about Ms. De Pina Nunes, I can see why she was selected for the 2021 Fall River Youth of the Year Award.

According to the release, she “will be attending Brown University to major in Neuroscience and Deaf Culture. She is always the first one to step up and help others; her altruistic way has earned her the respect of her classmates, teachers, and administrators. As an active member of such leadership groups as the National Honor Society and Project 351, she was focused and determined to give back to the community and assure that she established entities that not only would aid her community in the short term but in the long term as well.”

Mayor Coogan was proud of the group of nominees for showcasing the best parts of what it means to be a resident of Fall River.

“We had a fantastic group of nominees who represent the heart and the character of the Fall River community,” Mayor Coogan said. “This year, more than ever, it is important to recognize our young people’s accomplishments in the face of significant challenges.”

Christian McCloskey is the Youth Services Coordinator and Co-Chair of Youth CHOICES. He said that the announcement of the Youth of the Year on Absolutely Incredible Kid Day was done on purpose.

“The award reinforces the premise of the day which is to highlight how incredible and how important the youth truly are,” McCloskey said. “The YOTY and AIKD are a celebration for all youth and what they mean for not only the future but for the betterment of Fall River now.”

The other finalists representing a wide range of youth leadership groups included Alysha Ras, Charles Bembery, Dakota Patin, Hannah Pereira, Isabella Moniz, Isaiah Raines, Kilee Thibault, Lerelei Hetzler, Sophie McDonnell, and Zachary Massa.

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