Outstanding Youth Leaders of the Year Award


June 29, 2015


3 minutes




Aspire Names ‘Outstanding Youth Leader of the Year’ Award Recipients

Aspire recognizes Bianca Falanga and Nathan Hartley for their commitment and contributions to building a community that welcomes and celebrates people of all abilities.

Aspire, a leader in providing bold, pioneering and uncompromising services to kids and adults with developmental disabilities, their families and the Chicagoland community, proudly announced Bianca Falanga and Nathan Hartley as the recipients of the ‘Outstanding Youth Leader of the Year’ award, which was presented at the 30th Annual Aspire Classic golf tournament on Monday, June 22 at Butterfield Country Club in Oak Brook, IL.

This award honors youth leaders in the community who embody Aspire’s vision of “a community where people of all abilities live, learn and growth together.”

“For the past 30 years, Aspire’s golf outing has recognized the leadership of our traditional supporters,” said Jim Kales, President and CEO at Aspire. “As we look to the future, we want to also recognize emerging leaders who embody Aspire’s vision. We are honored to recognize Bianca and Nate, who are pushing the boundaries of what is possible for young leaders as well as people with disabilities in our communities.”

Bianca and Nate

Seventeen-year-old Wilmette, IL resident Bianca Falanga was recognized for her leadership in starting New Trier High School’s dancEmotion Club, which provides students with developmental disabilities the opportunity to express themselves through dance and movement. Bianca, a contemporary dancer and a member of New Trier’s Kinesis Dance Company, noticed the high school’s extracurricular clubs lacked dance-related options for students with disabilities. As a freshman, she worked to create, develop and spearhead this club which she has successfully led since 2012. Bianca’s created an inclusive community for these students and has grown the dancEmotion Club threefold since its inception. Bianca explained, “I started this club so that each of these students would feel connected and part of something fun and inspiring at New Trier. Each of the danceMotion dancers, no matter the physical or intellectual impairments, is valued, capable and a wonderful member of the club.”

Nathan Hartley, a 17-year-old Naperville North High School student, was recognized for his entrepreneurial efforts in launching Uniquely Able, a home décor company that specializes in magnet boards. Nathan, who serves as President, founded the company in 2013 after taking woodworking his freshman year. The mission of Uniquely Able is to create job opportunities for persons with disabilities, including cognitive and physical challenges. Nathan, who was diagnosed with dyslexia at age seven, said, “We all have unique abilities, but people can’t always look past disabilities to see talents. Uniquely Able helps people achieve their potential.” Recently, Nathan was selected as one of 20 high school innovators by the University of Illinois and was honored with an award presented by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Bianca and Nathan were honored at the 30th Annual Aspire Classic golf tournament, which raises crucial funds for adults with disabilities at Aspire.

For more information about the Aspire Classic, please visit www.aspirechicago.com/aspireclassic2015. Or read about Bianca and Nate in the Wilmette Beacon: www.wilmettebeacon.com/school/wilmette-teen-named-outstanding-youth-leader-year-award-recipient.

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