Metro Teen Awarded for Spreading Understanding of His Religion

IOWA  --  A metro teenager is being recognized for his work to spread understanding about his religion.

JJ Kapur and his family are Sikh, which is a religion many people don't much about. This used to include JJ, who made a jaw-dropping mistake as a two-year-old.

"I looked at the TV screen and I pointed at the nightly news, and I shouted, 'Papa, Papa.' But my parents later told me that the image on the screen was not my father, it was Osama bin Laden," said JJ.

It was an eye-opening moment for his entire family, who thought that if their son did not know the difference between Sikh and Islam, other people would not, either. Now 17 years old, JJ is a leader in the local Sikh community. He founded the Turbanators, a Sikh youth service group that has packed more than 44,000 meals for Meals From the Heartland.

JJ says he understands the confusion people have about the Sikh religion, which is why he encourages everyone to ask him about it.

"I make it an effort to educate my friends and my classmates and my teachers about my faith, and I encourage my friends to ask me, 'why do you wear a turban, JJ? Why do you not cut your hair?' Because this allows us to break down any stereotypes or any discrimination or any ill feelings about each other," he said.

JJ is being awarded the ACLU's Youth Advocacy Award for his work to break down those stereotypes.