Belen Jesuit senior Andres Dones, will receive the 2018 Youth Virtues, Valor and Vision Award from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) for selfless service, determination, innovation and ideals that are changing the world.
Dones was chosen from more than 1.9 million Catholic school students across the country. He will be presented with the prestigious NCEA Medal of Honor and Certificate at Belen Jesuit on January 29 during National Catholic Schools Week, which this year is January 28 – February 3, 2018.
Andres Dones felt his little brother Alejandro’s pain one too many times. Due to his hemophilia and other physical and learning disabilities, Alejandro was often ignored and excluded by his peers. So relying on his longtime cinematic interest, Andres decided to do something about it. He created a film entitled Project SHIELD: Siblings Help Inform and Educate Everyone About Living with Disabilities in order to instill change and educate people about it.
“As an educator for over thirty years, I have seen many excellent students and Andres is no exception,” said Mr. Jose E. Roca, Principal. “Andres has proven to be an exceptionally generous and caring individual. He has performed community service every year at Belen, and believes strongly in this endeavor. His most profound work has been done through the production of his film. Using this medium, Andres has been able to communicate to his peers at school and the community the importance of reaching out to those who may have some kind of handicap. Through his personal story and the stories of three other families, he has influenced the way we should all interact with those who may be handicap. These experiences have strengthened Andres’s commitment to social justice.”
After three years of planning and labor, his first film premiered with a splash, winning a 2017 Suncoast Student Production Award for Long Form Nonfiction from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The film features Andres and his only sibling, Alejandro, 14, as well as three other youths and their siblings with conditions ranging from Down syndrome to cerebral palsy. The interviewees express profound family love and discuss common themes such as how their siblings want to be treated normally and have friends just like everyone else.
Dones has presented his film at Belen Jesuit, St. Louis Covenant Catholic School, Blessed Trinity Catholic School, St. Thomas the Apostle School, Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, Christopher Columbus High School and Palmetto Middle School.
Belen Jesuit Preparatory School is located at 500 SW 127th Ave in Miami.