Each year the KIDS Network – a countywide umbrella organization including members from public agencies, the courts, law enforcement, education, community-based organizations, school-linked programs and parent groups – honors people ages 10-18 who have had a significant positive impact on their communities in Santa Barbara County.
Two types of awards were given this year: a Victory Award to a winner who has overcome adversity and hardship to help others, and a Champion Award to a winner whose long-standing or time-intensive service has helped others overcome adversity and hardship.
The Victory Award winner is Adela Lopez of Santa Maria High School. Adela is current President of the Las Comadres Club, a support and community service group for Latina girls. The youngest of 11 children, she speaks three languages (English, Spanish, and Mixteco). Adela, recently accepted to UCSB, will be the first of her family to attend a four-year university. She plans to become a pediatrician. Honorable mentions for the Victory Award are Anthony Ramirez, honored for his work on behalf of social justice and peaceful communication; and Carlito Velasquez, a student in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at Orcutt Junior High, honored for excelling in school and extracurricular activities, and inspiring others and teaching them sign language.
The Champion Award winner is Christopher Wagonhurst of Santa Barbara High School. Chris is a junior founding member and current President of the Santa Barbara Sports Drive, which supplies needy youth with athletic gear, bicycles, and safety education, and encourages participation in the Santa Barbara Boys & Girls Club. Honorable mentions for the Champion Award are Gerardo Nevarez, honored for promoting drug and alcohol awareness; and the 19 members of the Community Action Commission’s Community Involvement and Youth Leadership Internship Program, honored for creating the Youth Speak Out forum to provide elected officials with ideas to address community safety, vandalism, and the need for positive youth activities.
The winners were announced at the Youth Impact Awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at Shepard Hall at the Santa Maria Public Library (421 S. McClelland). The winners and honorable mentions received awards and a small cash prize, and all nominees received a certificate and were acknowledged by elected officials. The event was presented in English, Spanish, and sign language. Festivities included a DJ, a slide show, a fresh food buffet, and a color guard – the latter two provided by members of the Probation Department’s Los Prietos Boys Camp.
For more information on the Youth Impact Awards or the KIDS Network, please contact Dennis Tivey at 681-4543, Gloria Munoz at 681-4452, or Barbara Finch at 681-4678.