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The Kiwanis Club of Evanston honored the two winners of its inaugural “Funville” contest at a breakfast on May 15 at Evanston Township High School.

The contest was open to all middle and high school students living in Evanston, including home-schooled students, said Dr. Stamata Blanas, Kiwanis Funville project chairman.

Maple Conn, a seventh-grader at Chute Middle School, and Aaron Hellman, an ETHS junior, each received a $250 cash award for a project with written and visual components based, according to Kiwanis guidelines, “on the premise that through fun, innovative and creative ideas can be cultivated.” The Kiwanis Club of Evanston sponsored the contest in the hopes that, together with the students, they might envision new ideas and possibilities for Evanston.

The students introduced their projects at the breakfast with PowerPoint presentations. Maple received the Dr. Robert Storm Funville award for developing an idea she called “Community Against Bullying(CAB).” Bullies are not fun, she told the audience, but learning to deal with them can be. She proposed that kids sign a CAB contract that would give them confidence to stop bullies, help victims and feel supported, an idea she suggested could work in various community settings and at schools.

The judges said of Maple’s entry, “It addresses upfront a very difficult issue and requires involvement.” Calling it “brave and impressive,” they said, “It brings awareness to a tough subject in an interesting way.”

Aaron Hellman, a junior at Evanston Township High School, received the Robert Heiberger Funville award for his “Trash Bin Shootout.” Aaron proposed transforming all trash bins in City parks with basketball hoops, complete with backboards. The bin itself would be the “net.” The judges wrote: “It was a simple way to focus on how to dispose of their trash.” The concept is at once “very doable and fun,” they said, and “scales up an existing behavior.”

“The promise that ideas and innovations can be cultivated to engage young people in their community… continues to be a goal for the Kiwanis,” said Dr. Blanas. “[Young people] feel they have an important role to play.”