CARLSBAD — Thanks to the efforts of an 18-year-old Carlsbad resident, the city of Carlsbad was named the first-ever “Blue Ribbon City” during an Aug. 18 ceremony at City Hall.
Hannah Katz, who recently graduated from Sage Creek High School, spearheaded the campaign, inspired to make her Genius Project, a year-long student “passion project,” about spreading kindness throughout the community.
So, Katz connected with Helice “Grandma Sparky” Bridges, founder of Blue Ribbons Worldwide, to reach as many people as possible and help the city earn its own blue ribbon.
According to a release, Blue Ribbons Worldwide, a nonprofit aimed at creating positive social change and eradicating teen suicide and bullying, “teaches how to express appreciation, respect, and love; gives people pride, purpose, and the ability to end negativity and transform the world, and acknowledge the worth of self.”
Bridges, 79, described by “Chicken Soup for the Soul” co-author Jack Canfield as a “cross between Lucille Ball, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King,” started the “Who I Am Makes A Difference” Blue Ribbons acknowledgment system in 1979 following her own contentious divorce.
“I had thoughts of committing suicide on a daily basis,” Bridges wrote on her website.
Bridges created a “blue ribbon,” a positive affirmation that recognizes and acknowledges how individuals are making a difference in the community.
Katz, now a student at MiraCosta College, attended the organization’s “Standing Strong Together (SST) Community Building Leadership Certification” program, learning skills such as public speaking, event organizing and promotion and achieving goals in preparation for last month’s ceremony at Carlsbad City Hall.
Katz also worked with Sharon Doyle, a publicist for Blue Ribbons Worldwide, to connect with Gelato Love ice cream shop in Carlsbad Village to create two new flavors in honor of the ceremony and to donate a portion of their proceeds to the Blue Ribbons effort.
“My mom put me into (Blue Ribbons training program) because she loves it,” Katz said. “I went through it and saw it was so incredible. I just could tell this is something we could use from a youth perspective.”
In response to Katz’s efforts, Mayor Matt Hall issued a weeklong proclamation starting on Nov. 7, during which time Katz will host multiple ceremonies where she plans to honor up to 50,000 people associated with various schools, organizations, businesses, and other community leaders.
According to Doyle, the city of Encinitas is also slated to become the nest “Blue Ribbon City,” joining the cities of Carlsbad, Denver and Moose Lake, Minn. Bridges said the hopes to eventually reach one billion people around the world.