On October 27, Roosevelt High and other high schools throughout Fresno County committed their campuses to the entirely youth-led and inspired event ‘Operation RED Sky 2015’, which communicated youth’s proud stance against illegal drug and underage alcohol use. The event celebrated “National Red Ribbon Week” with the release of 2,000 red balloons throughout the county, representing the youth pledge to making healthy choices. Winnie, a high school Junior who has been part of the YLI family for 5 years and counting, was a driving force with the county-wide Youth Advocacy Leadership League (YALL). She was the student spokesperson for her school’s event and stood beside her principal.
A former resident of Kerman, Winnie was a member of Kerman Friday Night Live under the direction of YLI staff Cynthia Sapien, who taught her the value of community organizing. As a highly motivated youth leader, Winnie quickly expanded her scope of community impact by applying the tools YLI helped her develop in Fresno, where she recently moved with her mother and 4 siblings.
The recent move hasn’t stopped her, though.
Upon her arrival to Roosevelt High School, Winnie quickly noted a lack of youth encouragement for healthy choices on her campus and the debilitated state of her school’s FNL chapter, with only 1 active member. Motivated to fill that need and putting her solid organizing skills to work, in just two months Winnie and her team of two siblings worked tirelessly to reinvigorate Roosevelt High’s FNL group into a robust group of 20 students. With the added momentum that Winnie infused into her school, she and her fellow peers effectively created and executed the ‘Operation RED Sky 2015’ campaign.
Winnie’s drive to help and empower her community encompasses more than school life. She was also driven to organize her apartment complex by engaging children and youth within her vicinity and providing a local support system and safe space. In her extensive gamut of leadership capacities, Winnie cites some of the most important skills YLI taught her to include public speaking, writing grants, networking, and the capacity to identify adult allies in her community.
YLI has worked diligently for the last twelve years to spread awareness, to reduce youth access to alcohol, the saturation of alcohol messages, and underage drinking throughout Fresno County. YLI and Fresno FNL proudly sponsored Operation RED Sky 2015 in their quest to support youth in making healthy decisions.
Winnie’s inspirational work and message drew media attention. You can read Vida en el Valle coverage of Fresno FNL Operation RED Sky 2015 here. The young people created a video of the event.