Two North Idaho teens are improving the world, one phone app and one long-distance bicycle journey at a time.
Alex Knoll, 14, of Post Falls and Jakayla Walker, 18, of Harrison are being recognized through the 2019 Prudential Spirit of Community Award program for their selfless work to help others.
This award, in its 24th year, honors young people in each state for outstanding acts of volunteerism.
Alex, inventor of the Ability App (a free mobile application that helps people with disabilities navigate public spaces), was awarded the 2019 Prudential Spirit of Community Award as well as $1,000, an engraved medallion and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., for four days of national recognition events along with the top two honorees for the other 49 states.
"It was against a lot of great people, I was really appreciative," said Alex, who will be proud to represent North Idaho at the awards ceremony in May. "There were a lot of wonderful people doing great things. I’m very honored to have that award.”
Alex, a homeschooled eighth-grader, has been working on the Ability App since he was 9. He said he plans to use the $1,000 to pay an engineer to continue working on the app, which is expected to launch this year. Alex is also a recent recipient of the President's Volunteer Service Award, a prestigious honor that encourages citizens to live a life of service through presidential gratitude and national recognition.
“I also want to tell others they can do good, too,” he said. “There are so many things they can help fix in the world — you’re not too big or too small to make a difference.
Jakayla received the honor of Prudential Spirit of the Community Award distinguished finalist for her work last summer raising money to feed refugees in Southeast Asia as she biked more than 4,000 miles from Seattle to New York.
“I'm honored to be a finalist for the award,” she said. “I was very shocked to hear that I was even a finalist. I hope that people who hear my story, that they would be inspired to help make the world a better place and that they would take charge to help strangers.”
Jakayla, a senior at the online Inspire Connections Academy, is dual-enrolled at North Idaho College to pursue a degree in business.
“Most people today wait for someone else to do something or they wait for someone else to take charge,” she said. “I don't want to wait for someone else to take charge to make a change in the world. I want to be the change and I want to help other people that will never know my name. I want to raise money for people that are struggling so that they can have food and receive an education. I want to be able to give people hope that they will be able to survive and that there are people who want to help them and that they are not alone in their struggles.”