Lindsay students CATAPULT into Valley spotlight

In a culmination of 11 months of work with Great Valley Center, 20 enterprising Central Valley teenagers, including four from Lindsay, testified at the State Capitol on Friday, June 16, providing youth recommendations on teen issues such as Gangs and Substance Abuse, Community Development, Racial Tolerance, and Pregnancy Prevention.

The teens, who are part of the CATAPAULT program, were drawn from Sacramento, Madera, Tulare and Fresno Counties have spent the past 11 months assessing their own communities through peer focus groups and interviews with local leaders.

The CATAPULT program is a a unique Great Valley Center effort to help Valley high school students throughout the region learn to influence, and eventually become, decision makers in their communities.

The Lindsay Unified students who participated in the hearing are Misty Castillo, Sonia Castro, Monica Montes, and Janet Orozco. Their mentors are Brad Albert and Lori Armas.

Influential adult mentors guided them along the way. &#8220We made a point of including a diverse group of students,” said Martina Virrey, Programs Assistant with the Great Valley Center, &#8220We especially looked for young people with untapped potential.”

In addition to a stipend for participating, graduates of the program who later enroll in college will be eligible to receive a college scholarship held in trust for 10 years by the Great Valley Center. A graduation ceremony for the 20 students were held over the weekend to honor their efforts.

Founded in 1997, the Great Valley Center is a nonprofit organization that supports organizations and activities benefiting the economic, social and environmental well-being of California's Great Central Valley in partnership with the University of California, Merced.

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