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'Idol 2's Clay Aiken volunteers, announces his first grant winners

UPI News Service, 04/16/2005 

Clay Aiken has helped young people with intellectual disabilities and their Best Buddies plant more than 40 six-foot tall palm trees in Hollywood, Fla.

Aiken was participating in National Youth Service Day -- an annual weekend event April 15 to 17 that features children and teens volunteering in their communities.

The most successful alumnus from Fox's "American Idol" also announced the first recipients of the Clay Aiken ABLE to SERVE grants, providing grants of up to $2,000 each to youth with disabilities for community service projects for National Youth Service Day.

"Conventional wisdom often looks upon youth with disabilities as a population to be served by volunteers, instead of as a group that can serve as volunteers," Aiken said. "The Bubel/Aiken Foundation and Youth Service America seek to change this misperception by engaging youth with disabilities to serve create and lead others in service projects on National Youth Service Day and every day of the year."

As Aiken's singing career took off, the North Carolina native who had been studying to be a special education teacher before "American Idol," formed the Bubel/Aiken Foundation to create awareness about the diversity of individuals with disabilities and the possibilities inclusion.

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Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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