Hundreds of Tulare County’s middle and high school students will be honored during a red carpet event next week for community service projects they conducted as part of the Step Up Youth Challenge.
The Step Up Youth Challenge is a seven-month program designed to engage a diverse group of junior high and high school students in a service learning-based project that impacts their school culture and community.
Program participants will be honored at the Youth Challenge Red Carpet event, scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on May 8 at the Visalia Fox Theatre. The Red Carpet event will feature a deejay, dance troop, vocal performances, and an Academy Awards like ceremony.
“One of the most important features of Step Up Youth Challenge is that the projects developed for each campus are youth-designed and youth-driven,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "We know from experience that youth-driven projects have a greater potential for success as students take ownership in the process.”
This year, service learning projects ranged from clothing donations to the homeless and creating community gardens to healthy eating campaigns and campaigns against hunger.
For example, Mission Oak High School students in Tulare created a campaign called “Harvesting Hope,” which aimed to fight hunger. Every Saturday, students would tend to a community garden in Pixley. Every Sunday, students would canvas the county and pick excess fruit from backyard trees of homeowners who were willing to donate their crop. The fruit was then donated to a food bank.
“I could not be more proud of the students and the service learning projects they have completed,” said Phil Cox, Chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. “We hope these students will continue to be great assets to their respective communities.”
Schools that completed projects will compete in a challenge to win grants for their school. The winners will be announced at the red carpet event.
The program is sponsored by the Tulare County Gang Prevention Task Force, whose goal is to empower youth and support the growth of positive options throughout Tulare County.
Middle School Participants:
Burton Middle School (Porterville): Built self-esteem through community activism. Projects included a recycling program; sock donation to homeless; feeding the homeless; cleaning a local water way; and graffiti removal.
Divisadero Middle School (Visalia): Focused on decreasing bullying and peer pressure by educating students at feeder schools.
El Monte Middle School (Cutler-Orosi): Initiated an anti-bullying campaign which included awareness activities such as surveys, videos, and distributing posters.
Jefferson Elementary School (Lindsay): Projects included a clothing drive; penny drive to help two families; collecting books and backpacks for incoming students; and a walk-a-thon for breast cancer.
Pixley Middle School (Pixley): Created an on-campus garden and read to elementary school students.
Pleasant View Middle School (Porterville): Restored the community park in Poplar. Restoration included fixing drinking fountains, repairing light fixtures, watering the grass, repainting the basketball court lines, creating a space for art, creating a mural, repainting tables and benches, installing a bike rack, installing plants and flowers, repairing sprinklers, and installing a playground.
Sundale School (Tulare): Initiated Project Sticky, which consisted of placing inspirational, as well as anti-bullying quotes. Other inspirational messages were placed throughout the campus on posters and with sidewalk chalk.
Sycamore Valley Academy (Visalia): Donating items to the homeless and implementing a Valentine’s Day event for the elderly.
Valley Life Charter (Visalia): Initiated a “Kindness Campaign” to become the “Kindness School” in the county. Activities included a kindness survey, a kindness challenge, a kindness project, a kindness project for Make-A-Wish, and a smile card distribution.
Valley Oak Middle School (Visalia): Suicide prevention activities which included a school assembly, writing letters to suicide survivors, educating students about mental illness, and helped fellow peers in need of help.
Washington Intermediate School (Dinuba): Activities included a food and toy drive, clothes drive, and a fundraiser to benefit a project for better drinking water.
Wilson Middle School (Exeter): Activities included a canned food drive; a community needs survey, and educating younger students about good character.
Willow Glen Green Acres Extension (Visalia): Project emphasized bullying prevention and teaching students to be a hero.
High School Participants:
Eleanor Roosevelt Charter School (Visalia): Initiated elder/student relationship program; student/younger student mentorship program; a community blog; and hosted a one day “Community Spirit” event.
Lindsay High School (Lindsay): Campaign focusing on educating the public to reduce teen pregnancy.
Mission Oak High School (Tulare): Created a “Harvesting Hope” campaign to fight hunger.
Mt. Whitney High School (Visalia): Students campaigned to help raise awareness to prevent unhealthy relationships.
Orosi High School (Cutler-Orosi): Drug and alcohol awareness.
Summit Charter Academy (Porterville): Bullying campaign that created “Safe Zones” on campus.
Woodlake High School (Woodlake): Healthy eating campaign that educated the public on how to eat responsibly and how to properly plant and harvest fruits and vegetables.