COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — Brayden Johnston spends a lot of time volunteering on the ice, and a lot of time volunteering in courtrooms. Those hours and dedication are not going unnoticed.
"Brayden is exceptionally special," said Forge Evolution (formerly Teen Court) CEO Morgan Mote.
Johnston volunteers at Forge Evolution to help kids with misdemeanor offenses find a way out of the justice system.
"It could be drugs, shoplifting, theft, these are the more common ones, and then we’ll have assault, fighting, things like that," Johnston said.
Offenders appear before a panel of their peers or go to trials with student attorneys. The sentences often include things like life skills classes.
"For (Brayden) it really matters what is going on in that youth's life, what do they need to be successful, what do they need to be able to move forward in their lives," Mote said. "Brayden cares so deeply about each individual student that he listens to and, for us, that’s what really, really matters."
"I think it makes a big impact to give them a second chance," Johnston said.
In just two years, Johnston has moved up the ranks at Forge Evolution from bailiff to student attorney. He also won the Forge Evolition Volunteer of the Year award for the most hours served. It's an honor that has made his parents very proud.
"When he started doing all this he was about 14," said Brayden's mother Michelle Johnston. "What 14-year-old wants to volunteer their time to do something that they’re not gonna get anything in return?
And if that's not enough, Johnston also recently got a CPR certification after his father had an unexpected seizure.
"Next thing I know I woke up in the hospital," said Brayden's father Brad Johnston.
But Johnston was determined to be ready to respond to help his father if it happens again.
"He knows the importance of it," said Brad Johnston. "It means a lot. It means he loves me."
Caring, community-focused, and truly making a difference, that's why Brayden Johnston is the latest winner of the News5 Jefferson Award.
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