National Recreation Foundation Awards Arshay Cooper Annual Crawford Prize
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LAKE FOREST, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Continuing its annual tradition of recognizing leaders who encourage youth recreation, the National Recreation Foundation recently announced that its 2022 Crawford Prize winner is Arshay Cooper, accomplished rower and bestselling author.

Cooper, a Benjamin Franklin award-winning author and the protagonist of the critically acclaimed film "A Most Beautiful Thing," is a Golden Oar recipient for his contributions to the sport of rowing, motivational speaker, and activist, particularly around issues of accessibility in low-income communities.

NRF specifically recognized Cooper for breaking down barriers for youth in rowing. He coached rowing at the Chicago Urban Youth Rowing Club and worked as the youth program guidance counselor for Victory Outreach's Midwest/Gulf Coast region. Arshay also has founded or helped start several rowing programs for youth from low-income communities across the country so that other young people can experience the profound change that happens on the water. He's mentored hundreds of kids to improve their athletic, professional, and personal lives.

"Arshay always believed that rowing was not only about developing athleticism, but also professionalism, discipline, community, and a love of nature," said National Recreation Foundation Trustee Lila Leff. "More and more, in recent years, he has felt compelled to tell his story and to create opportunities for others to be introduced to nature and the wealth of opportunities he believes can come through rowing," said Leff.

Cooper formally received the award earlier this month at the Annual Meeting of NRF's Board of Trustees in Colorado Springs, Colo. NRF celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Crawford Prize at the meeting.

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"For a lot of young people out there, the question is: 'How do I allow this fire inside of me to shine brighter than the fire that happens around me?' I think the answer is the power of the outdoors," Cooper said.

Reflecting on receiving the Crawford Prize, Cooper said, "Right away, I thought about the new boats, the extra tours, the college trips that the kids will receive because of this Prize. I'm so excited to give this award to more young people to provide access and opportunity through the life-changing sport of rowing." Read more about Cooper's advocacy work here.

In Colorado Springs, the Foundation also honored the 2021 and 2020 Crawford Prize winners, who had received their awards virtually due to the pandemic.

Tyrhee Moore, a mountaineer, outdoor education leader, and advocate was awarded the 2021 Crawford Prize for his leadership in promoting equitable access to outdoor recreation. Moore is the founder of Soul Trak Outdoors, a nonprofit organization that connects communities of color to local green spaces and public lands in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

In 2020, Derwin Hannah, from Southwest Baltimore's Mill Hill neighborhood, received the Prize for his efforts to transform a trash-strewn vacant park that neighbors once feared to enter into a safe space for children to play, offering hundreds of families a support network for mentorship and opportunity, and making the urban park a center for community cohesion, investment, and sports recreation. He is the founder of the ABC Park Seminoles Sports Agency.

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About Arshay Cooper

Cooper's award-winning memoir chronicling his high school rowing career, "A Most Beautiful Thing," was recently adapted into a film by the same name, narrated by the Academy and Grammy Award-winning artist Common, produced by NBA Stars Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade and Grammy Award-winning 9th Wonder, and directed by award-winning filmmaker and Olympic rower Mary Mazzio. He leads the A Most Beautiful Thing Inclusion Fund to bring rowing, academic support, and college access to under-resourced communities. Cooper has also been called upon to build bridges across the country through his story and has inspired the founding of new diversity-focused rowing programs across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. More info about him can be found at

The Crawford Prize

Presented annually since 2002, the Robert W. Crawford Achievement Prize recognizes a living person who has dedicated themselves to enhancing recreation opportunities for youth, making it possible for more young people to live healthy, participatory lives, thus reinforcing the work of the Foundation. Each year, the Prize is awarded to a person, professional or volunteer, who has made an extraordinary contribution to advancing recreation programs for youth from disadvantaged circumstances. The Prize winner then directs the $50,000 cash prize to support the nonprofit of their choice that addresses the needs of youth through outdoor recreation.

About the National Recreation Foundation

The National Recreation Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the role of recreation as a positive force in improving the quality of life of youth. Over the past decade, the National Recreation Foundation has distributed over $17 million to more than 180 grantees across the country.


Heather Hansen
Humanity Communications Collective
Filed Under: Business

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