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Four of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County’s Fillmore High School site-based volunteers are members of the Ventura County Transportation Commission Teen Council. They are first and second generation decedents from El Salvador, Venezuela, Mexico and Portugal. The Teen Council is a six-member group. The other two members are from other high schools in Ventura County.

Formed in October 2013, the group is sponsored by the Ventura County Transportation Commission. They meet once a month at the government center, and together they have developed a strategic plan for promoting alternative forms of transportation among youth. Their goal is to inspire a healthy lifestyle and bring their county together by highlighting the great things about their communities.

The project they have developed is a K-12, countywide VISTA bus Art Contest. The tagline is “What is your town known for? What would you like it to be known for?” Participants will be provided with a template of the bus and they are to include a 30-40 word description of the artwork that is submitted. All entries must be submitted by April 11, 2014. Grand prizewinners will have their artwork displayed on the side of a VISTA bus and will receive a gift card prize. There are two types of entries: individual and collaborative class entries. The students have created all promotional posters, contest rules and school poster announcements, including a promotional video.

In addition to volunteering as mentors, all of these students are performing well academically. Some are involved in the Mock Trial team, while others participate in band and play sports. When asked why they joined the Teen Council, Evelyn, who is a junior, said that she sees a need for teens to improve their health, because obesity is very prevalent in her community. Angel, also a junior, shared that he is diabetic and he wants youth to keep healthy, noting that one way is to provide awareness of healthier life styles. Diego, a freshman, said that public transportation affects him and he likes the idea of not always depending on rides from others. He rides his bicycle, walks and takes the VISTA bus when possible. Misal is a sophomore who joined the Teen Council to advocate and bring positive change in his community. He likes working in a group with other youth and he plans to be the first member of his family to attend college. Misal feels that participating in the Teen Council has added to his extra curriculum experience, which improves his chance of being accepted to a university of his choice. Big Brothers Big Sisters is proud to have such a young, talented, progressive group advocating and bringing forth positive changes in their communities.