U.S. Dream Academy student design appears on XS™ Energy packaging

Jim Ayres, managing director of Amway North America, and David Vanderveen, vice president and general manager of the XS brand at Amway, show Kaleem Payne his name printed on an oversized package of XS gum.

Regular chewers of XS™ Energy Gum from Amway likely noticed a new look on the package this year thanks to Kaleem Payne, a junior high student from Baltimore.

Kaleem earned a cash prize and the honor of having his design on the gum packaging for a year thanks to a contest Amway held for students participating with the U.S. Dream Academy.

Stepping up support

Amway has been a supporter of the U.S. Dream Academy for more than a decade and stepped up its support with the contest this year to mark the nonprofit’s 20th anniversary.

“We were asking ourselves, ‘How can we help some of the DreamKids develop their skills and help them see the potential of their dreams?” said Jim Ayres, managing director for Amway North America and a Dream Academy board member.

They landed on a contest to find new artwork for XS™ Energy Gum. David VanderVeen, co-founder of the XS™ Energy brand, wanted to take it a step further than simple artwork.

A package of XS energy Gum Mint Explosion by Amway

Real world experience

“We decided, let’s not just hold a contest and see the art this new generation can create; let’s actually put it on a package,” he said. “Let’s apply it and show the kids what they can do to participate in the world around them.”

More than 75 kids entered, submitting a variety of art. Kaleem’s design was awarded top honors and $2,500. Michaela Etienne from Orlando won second place and $1,500. And two students from Indianapolis collaborated and placed third, each winning $1,000 – Antwon Shockley and Jontavias Ford.

Personal connection

For Ayres, the Dream Academy’s mission of providing after school programming and mentoring to students who have an incarcerated parent is personal. Jim’s father served time in prison when he was growing up.

“He had gone as low as you could possibly go. He proved you can always start again,” Ayres said. “He taught me the courage to persevere after failure – to pick yourself up and move forward again.

“He had failed, but overcame it. And he supported and helped me.”

See Kaleem’s design on the XS™ Energy gum package at Amway.com.

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