TULARE – Hundreds of Tulare County’s middle and high school students will be honored during a red carpet event this 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.