Sorrentino Youth Named Parks' Rising Stars
Late last month the Queens Parks Department held its fourth annual Rising Stars Awards Ceremony to honor young people from Queens’ recreation centers for their commitment to and long-term participation in Parks’ recreation center programs. Queens had nine nominees at the February 24 event. Two of the three winners from the borough are from Sorrentino in Far Rockaway.
“Our recreation centers offer free opportunities for Queens youth to participate in a new sport, learn about technology, or keep fit,” said Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, Queens Chief of Recreation. “These Rising Stars are some of our most dedicated teen members, who have now taken the initiative to volunteer and help others learn the skills they acquired.”
Akeela D. Williams and Tolulope “Andre” Olatunbosun both came to Sorrentino Recreation Center when they were 11 years old. Both teenagers already have several accomplishments to there name.
Williams’ parents registered her at Sorrentino with one purpose in mind; for her to become a member of the World Champion Double Dutch team, Stan’s Pepper Steppers – whose home base is Sorrentino. Williams, 15, has become a leader among her peers and earned numerous awards and honors, including being part of the 2010 American Double-Dutch League-World Invitational Champion Pepper Stepper team. Recently she was recognized by the National Junior Honor Society and is enrolled in the Gateway Honors program. Williams says she learned that the first step to being a winner is becoming a dedicated team player. Williams considers her teammates and the staff at Sorrentino part of her extended family and the recreation center her second home. She was nominated for the Rising Stars program by the center’s recreation director and coach of the Pepper Steppers, Stan Brown. Her goal is to become a pediatric cardiologist.
Olatunbosun, 16, was enrolled at Sorrentino’s after-school program by his parents when he was 11. Under the supervision of Recreation Specialist Robert Lindo, Tolulope has participated in the youth sports programs and has conducted cleanup projects as part of learning the importance of keeping his neighborhood clean. He is currently a sophomore at Benjamin Cardozo High School where he is enrolled in the Gateway Honors Program for Minorities and the DaVinci Mathematics and Science program. He plays on the Junior Varsity Basketball and Varsity Lacrosse teams. He is also enrolled in a Red Cross program to learn how to save lives. He hopes to attend Duke University.
Williams, Olatunbosun and the third winner from Queens, Zahra Abd’ Allah, will be honored with winners from the other boroughs at the New York Parks Rising Stars ceremony in April.
“Throughout the year, the award winners will conduct visits to children’s programs to share how they became Rising Stars and what is necessary to be chosen,” said Zachary Feder, a spokesperson for the Parks Department. “They will also conduct organized activities based on the skills they learned from their favorite recreation program.”
The Rising Star awards are given out to dedicated recreation program participants in each of the five boroughs.