2020 Liberty graduate Sarah Burke is the recipient of the Gateway YMCA Ray Sonnenberg Sr. Youth of the Year Award, given to the YMCA volunteers who exhibit its core values of caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and faith. Burke has been participating in the Chesterfield YMCA Community Theatre since 2017, and earned a Girl Scout Gold Award in 2019 for creating a performance improv workshop for children on the autism spectrum. The workshop transcends acting, helping develop skills with social cues, eye contact, reading and showing emotion, as well as how to generally interact with others.
Burke said that she, too, had struggles related to ADHD and Autism, and wanted the workshop to be a safe place for kids with similar challenges where they could count on support and acceptance. "I used it as a gateway for others like me to feel accepted," Burke said. "Life opened a new door and changed me forever by showing me the Y's theatre program. Without their support for expanding my project, it would have vanished into obscurity in my memory and I would never have used it to help myself and others like me. I now have the chance to share my passion with others."
Burke will attend St. Charles Community College, and possibly join the Disney College program. "I'm hoping to do something with theatre and singing, possibly arts education to work with kids in either theater or music."