Sheldon Rieke receives 2013 Human Rights Award

NEW ULM Sheldon Rieke was honored as the recipient of the 2013 New Ulm Human Rights Award during a ceremony held Thursday in at the Lind House. The award is given annually by the New Ulm Human Rights Commission.

Rieke has been Youth Program Coordinator at the local Healthy Communities Healthy Youth of Brown County since 2006. He is heavily involved with the SPOTS program, which consists of New Ulm, Sleepy Eye and Springfield high school students performing scenes on social issues. Performance topics range from bus safety for young grades to abusive relationships and drinking for high school students

Elizabeth Sletta, who presented the award on behalf of the New Ulm Human Rights Commission, said the award recognizes a person, community organization or business in New Ulm that significantly contributed to the preservation and advancement of human rights.

When trying to explain human rights to her 12-year-old daughter, she found a definition that described it as a right, rather than a privilege, inherently granted by being a human being. The definition listed the rights as protecting people and “also being there to help us get along with each other and live in peace. ”

She said Rieke has done invaluable work helping the youth of the New Ulm how to “get along and live in peace.”

Mike Brigger, executive director of Healthy Communities Healthy Youth, also praised Rieke’s efforts with local youth.

“His heart and his passion belongs to those kids. He’s there when they need him, lending an ear and a voice,” said Brigger.

Rieke said he was deeply honored to have received the award.

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at

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