Arlington Announces 2012 Human Rights Award Winners

  • Wakefield High School's Project Upstanders, Washington-Lee High School's Best Buddies Club, Sara Heisey and John “Kip” Laramie honored
  • Public invited to Dec.13 award ceremony

ARLINGTON, Va. — Two community groups and two outstanding individuals were selected as winners of the 2012 James B. Hunter Human Rights Award, the Arlington Human Rights Commission announced.

Wakefield High School's Project Upstanders, Washington-Lee High School's Best Buddies Club, Sara Heisey and John “Kip” Laramie are this year's winners of the Hunter award, named for the former County Board Member, who spent years in public service working on behalf of individuals with little access to government.

The awards will be presented at a public ceremony and reception from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13 at the Arlington County Board Room, 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22201.

U.S. Department of State's Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, Ms. Judith E. Heumann, will be the keynote speaker. Ms. Heumann is an internationally recognized leader in the disability community and a lifelong civil rights advocate for disadvantaged people.

“These outstanding honorees represent the very best of Arlington,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “From the halls of our public high schools, where students stand up every day to bullying and work to make every student, regardless of his or her intellectual abilities or sexual orientation, feel welcome; to the streets of Rosslyn, where a veteran businessman made it his business to care for those who have become homeless, the 2012 human rights award winners are helping to make Arlington a more tolerant, diverse and inclusive community.”

The James B. Hunter Award recognizes sustained commitment and /or outstanding accomplishment in the area of human rights made in Arlington by an individual, community group, non-profit organization or business.

About the winners

  • Wakefield High School's Project Upstanders (community group) is a youth group that stands against bullying and protects the rights and dignity of fellow students. More than 125 Wakefield students have undergone intensive, day-long training to learn positive pro-social skills they use to combat bullying, harassing, stereotypical and prejudicial behavior among their peers.
  • Washington-Lee High School's Best Buddies Club (community group) is a student driven organization that bridges the social gap between students with and without intellectual or physical disabilities by creating true friendships and the acceptance of differences. Although just two years old, Washington-Lee's Best Buddies Club has been named one of its best chapters by Best Buddies International. Best Buddies, founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, today has chapters in 1,500 schools across the globe. The Washington-Lee chapter holds events throughout the year that offer a safe place for everyone to enjoy the benefits of being a High School student.
  • Sara Heisey (individual) a 2012 graduate of Wakefield high School, devoted much of her senior year to fighting for the rights of gender and sexual minorities. Heisey has been a powerful student advocate for inclusion, tolerance and diversity.
  • John “Kip” Laramie (individual) is a business owner who, in many ways, has dedicated his life to help others obtain shelter, a healthier life and second chances. Laramie opened the Santa Fe Café in Rosslyn in 1988, and soon began giving away food to homeless in the neighborhood. Since then, he has worked tirelessly to increase services for the homeless. For the past several years, Laramie has served as head of the Homeless Services Committee of the Rosslyn BID.

Arlington Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.