Yardley resident recognized for giving ‘Hope’

by Christine Wolkin

For the past 18 years, The National Liberty Museum (NLM) of Philadelphia has been celebrating the achievements of outstanding young citizens – and this year one of Yardley’s own has been recognized.

“Each year we look for young people who have championed liberty through civic engagement, conflict resolution, diversity promotion, and school or community leadership. These winners truly represent what we at the National Liberty Museum strive for every day – encouraging people of all ages to find their own place in the story of liberty,” said Gwen Borowsky, executive director of the NLM. 

Hope Walsh, a 17-year-old student from The Pennington School in Mercer County, took unused shirts, up-cycled them and turned them into dresses and shirts, which were then sent to an underprivileged school in Haiti that her high school supports.

Each of the 150 kids in the school received a piece of clothing designed and made especially for them.

“I knew our Girl Scout unit and my drama department had extra t-shirts from old events that had never been used so I designed the dresses and shorts with a color blocking pattern, made from different shirts, to make them different,” Hope explained.

“Up-cycling is like recycling an item but changing it into something better. The group of students and teachers who went to Haiti in March of this year took the dresses and shorts to the school children.”

This year’s recipients of NLM’s Young Heroes were chosen from among 67 national and international nominations, submitted by friends, teachers and community members who recognized the incredible contributions of these outstanding young citizens.

Hope’s mother, Marah, who is also her Girl Scout Troop leader, nominated Hope.

“Hope is kind and genuine and is a great role model to young children she has helped both internationally and in her community. It is not easy being a teenager in the twenty-first century, but Hope manages to lead by example and stay true to herself. I could not be more proud of who she is,” said Marah.

Additionally, Hope made an instruction brochure so that community members will have the tools to continue her project in the future.

“Some of the people who helped me will continue to make more clothes and donate them to organizations that help children all over the world. I did know how to sew with a machine a little bit before doing this project but now, of course, I have had a lot more practice improving my sewing skills,” she said.

This is not the first time Hope has been involved in helping children from different parts of the world that are struggling.

Last summer she helped run a program for children refugees in Athens, Greece.

“We shared friendship by teaching the kids how to make bracelets, singing songs together and we collected and donated underwear and craft supplies.”

Closer to home, she continued, “ I also help lead a troop of young Girl Scouts and participate as a counselor at a Girl Scout day camp in the summers.”

While she doesn’t know yet what the future holds for her, Hope would like to go to college and get involved in humanitarian activities.

“I know I love to work with children and would like to teach young children or help people in some way,” she said.

On August 9th, the National Liberty Museum celebrated its 18th annual Heroes Awards ceremony.

Each Young Hero was presented with a special medal and certificate to commemorate the occasion.

Additionally, a plaque featuring the winners’ stories will be displayed for a year in the Museum’s Young Heroes Exhibit. 

 “I felt a little strange going to the Awards ceremony and getting recognized because I don’t consider what I do or did to be that heroic,” said Hope. “But after going and hearing everyone’s stories and being honored, I was proud of what I do and feel good that people recognize it.”

PHOTO CAP: Hope Walsh