Gavin Johns, 15, is a sophomore at Valor Christian High School who has a love for seeing others smile. The son of two entrepreneurs, Johns hopes to one day follow in his parents' footsteps, and do as much as he can to bring those smiles every day.
On April 16, the Lone Tree Youth Commission honored Johns with the Outstanding Youth of Lone Tree award. The award is given to youth in the city who have a proven commitment to giving back in the community.
When he's not going to school or volunteering with the Special Olympics, Johns spends time with his friends. He has a love for cars as well, and hopes to one day own his own mid-2000s BMW M3 — that is, once he finally earns his driver's license.
“I'd like to instill a sense of caring for other people,” Johns said, “no matter who they are, what they look like.”
The Lone Tree Voice spoke to Johns about his award and his passion for giving back.
How does it feel to be named Outstanding Youth of Lone Tree?
It feels really good. I worked hard to get this, and it's been a goal of mine to pour back into the community. One of the things that's been reassuring is that the work I'm doing is paying off, and a lot of things like the leadership positions I've taken have proven to be beneficial.
What are some of those leadership positions you've taken?
One of the main things I'm really dedicated to is working on the Special Olympics. I began working with them since around middle school, my seventh-grade year. I stayed committed to them. I've just loved working with them. I think it's helped me build a lot of empathy and just learn the types of people too. It makes me smile when I get to see them smile when they score a basket and things like that.
What do you wish you could instill in other people?
I'd like to instill a sense of caring for other people, no matter who they are, what they look like. Especially now, the current struggles with suicide and things like that, I think a lot of people maybe think, 'OK they're labeled like this, I can't hang out with this type of person.' I would just like to help pour into other people and let them know that labels don't matter, it's the person underneath.
One thing I've been doing is just bringing other people to the things I have been doing. We meet every Saturday at my school and do the Special Olympics thing. I've just tried to bring in random people or friends of mine in to help spread positivity of meeting different people and beginning to appreciate all different types of people.
What inspires you to give back?
Since I was little, my parents have addressed me as really caring for all types of people. It's just something about — I like seeing other people smile. It's been really meaningful to me. I've built a lot of good friendships from it too. The kids love you no matter what. You show up and they're super excited to see you, too.
What do you want to do in life?
I'd love to be an entrepreneur like my parents. It's a lot of hard work to do what they do. It's inspired me. I've seen the benefits of hard work they do and how it's paid off, and it's been inspiring to me and that's what I would like to do.
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