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June 22, 2014
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Vail Daily column: Teen encourages peers to get involved in community

For many high school seniors, showing up for classes during the weeks leading up to graduation is a huge feat. On top of that, envision a teen waking up at 5:30 a.m., braving a two-hour round-trip commute, often during treacherous spring blizzards and horrendous road conditions, and still showing a strong commitment to finishing all outstanding projects. You’ve just imagined Wendy Carrasco, a recent graduate of Battle Mountain High School.

While Carrasco enjoys spending her time reading, writing and drawing, she has found time to serve as an intern with the Eagle River Youth Coalition, an organization that serves youth and families in Eagle County. Carrasco hopes to gain professional experience through her internship, and she says she has enjoyed increasing her community involvement while learning about various local initiatives related to youth and safety.

An Invaluable Asset

Even as an unpaid intern, Carrasco has proven herself to be an invaluable asset in numerous projects at the Eagle River Youth Coalition and shows no fear of jumping right in to a new challenge. She has served as an unwavering supporter in various community events including the GOLD Get Out and Live Drug Free event, Battle Mountain High School’s safe driving exhibit and Family Jam and Plan.

“One of my favorite projects I’ve helped with is the GOLD Party, where I got to see so many people come together to help the community,” Carrasco said. “Guest speakers shared about their drug use history, which provided a fun and educational element.”

Carrasco has worked tirelessly to evaluate survey results from local in-school drug prevention programs, helping to identify effectiveness and student progress. Her enthusiastic contributions to Eagle River Youth Coalition’s marketing efforts have been impressive. Most recently, Carrasco expressed interest in promoting healthy relationships and helping to prevent teen pregnancy, so she sought out the opportunity to begin volunteering with the Red Ribbon Project of Eagle County. Red Ribbon Project empowers Eagle County teens by initiating conversations about teen pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.

When looking back on her high school career, one highlight has been the Pro Start program.

“We get to learn about new cooking techniques and to build business management skills,” Carrasco said. “Our team just won the state championship!”

Gaining Perspective

Carrasco has also enjoyed her business law class, where she has gained a perspective of the Colorado legal system.

Students even had an opportunity to serve as witnesses or lawyers during a mock trial. With post-graduation plans to relocate to Denver, Carrasco will surely miss her friends and family in Eagle County, but she looks forward to attending the Aveda Institute and pursuing her dream through the unique and creative field of cosmetology.

Given the plethora of organizations effectively serving youth and families in the Eagle River Valley, Carrasco encourages her peers to get involved.

“If you want to make a difference, join forces with an organization that helps out in the community,” she said. “Serving others helps to keep our community safe.”

Michelle Stecher is the executive director at the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports collaborative prevention programs and services. The Youth Leaders Council is a program of the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers collaborative prevention programs and services to tackle three main areas that affect the development of teens and adolescent youth including: substance abuse prevention, emotional wellness and mental health promotion and academic achievement. In addition to Youth Leaders Council, Eagle River Youth Coalition offers various levels of parenting education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit www.eagleyouth.org.

“If you want to make a difference, join forces with an organization that helps out in the community. Serving others helps to keep our community safe.”
Wendy Carrasco
Youth leader


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The VailDaily Updated Jun 22, 2014 09:56PM Published Jun 22, 2014 05:27PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.