by Tlecoz Huitzil
Mayeli Xinatli Paredes-Zavala was recently awarded the Kind Hero Award by her elementary school in southwestern Michigan. A ceremony was held in the school auditorium to give her the award on December 1, 2017.
The first Xicana in her school to receive the award, Mayeli is also the first second-grader in the school to receive the award, which is given once a month at her school. It is part of a new program to teach children the value of kindness and foster suicide prevention. Mayeli received the award for finding money a little boy lost in the school cafeteria which he planned to use to purchase books at the book fair. She turned the money in to school staff who was able to locate and return it to the little boy who lost it. In addition to being a role model of kindness in school Mayeli’s accomplishments also include helping her mother obtain donations of food for the local food shelter to help underprivileged families.
Last year Mayeli spoke to attendees of the “Thumbprint Conference” held on the campus of Prescott College in Arizona, and earlier this year she delivered an inspiring message to attendees of the “Juvenile Lifer Rally for Justice” in Detroit, Michigan, calling for the community to support an end to life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders. In response to receiving her Kind Hero Award Mayeli stated she hopes “to inspire more kids to be kind.” When asked about her aspirations in life Mayeli says she wants to become President of the United States of America and a fashion designer. She says she would like to be both.
Mayeli is the daughter of parents Maria Zavala-Paredes and Efren Paredes, Jr. Maria is a community organizer and founder of the “Dia de la Mujer Conference” held annually at Michigan State University to celebrate Xicana/Latina womyn’s accomplishments. It is the largest conference of its kind in the Midwest. Congratulations to Mayeli for her acts of kindness and activism. She is a model of young Xicana leadership other Xicanitas can learn from.