News Article


The Inaugural STEP Youth Advocate of the Year Award Winner Announced

STEP is delighted to announce a new opportunity, starting this year, to honor a young person who has embodied the positive character traits of being a strong self-advocate by demonstrating leadership and accepting responsibility in speaking up for themselves and others. 

The Wesley Rice STEP Youth Advocate of the Year Award is named after a young man – Wesley Rice, of course – who wanted a job and was willing to persevere until he landed one; and, in so doing, raised up an entire community. With that simplest of desires, Wesley set in motion the creation of an employment initiative that has enabled numerous youth with disabilities to train for work in an inclusive community setting, and then go on to become employed, skilled, responsible, tax-paying individuals. We are all inspired by Wesley and his straight-forward advice, “If you want something, like a job, just ask.” 

Wesley asked for a job, and countless others have benefited, and will continue to benefit. STEP is thrilled and proud to present this premiere award, to name it after Wesley and his accomplishments, and to see what other youth will walk in Wesley’s shoes in years to come. 

It looks like Wesley is pretty happy about it, too! We'll be sharing more throughout the week about Wesley, his awesome mom, Christi Rice, and their work toward inclusive employment in Knoxville.

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