By MELISSA ST. AUDE, Casa Grande Dispatch, Jun 23, 2021 Updated Jun 28, 2021
CASA GRANDE -- After noticing a lack of art on the walls of an area shelter, a group of teens decided to take action, creating more than a dozen paintings that they then donated to Against Abuse Inc.
Each inspirational painting celebrates women and motherhood.
“Art has a way of touching all of us at our very core,” said Against Abuse Deputy Director Maria-Elena Ochoa. “These talented young artists have created artistic pieces that are both beautiful and truly inspirational. It is incredible how their gift of expression has actually caused an uplifting shift in the shelter environment, promoting healing and resiliency from domestic violence and trauma through art.”
Fifteen area student artists with the Casa Grande Youth Alliance spent more than 200 hours over the course of three months to paint the pieces for the art collection, which aims to give strength and inspiration to Against Abuse clients.
Creating the art was a collaborative project between the Casa Grande Youth Alliance, the AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate program and Casa Grande Daybreak Rotary Club, said Casa Grande Alliance Executive Director Bob Shogren.
“It was quite remarkable how the youth came together to create the pieces over the past three months. So much thought and care was put into each project,” he said.
Canvases and painting supplies were purchased with a grant the Rotary Club obtained through Rotary District 5500 funding, Shogren said.
What is the Casa Grande Youth Alliance?
The purpose of the Casa Grande Youth Alliance is to mobilize youth to be informed on the greatest challenges and needs of their community and to implement service projects that impact their communities in a positive way. The purpose is also as follows:
The Youth Alliance will consist of a diverse body of students, ranging from seventh to twelfth grade for the period starting July 1, 2021, and ending June 30, 2022. Membership is open to middle and high school students in the Casa Grande area. A maximum of 18 students per year will be selected to participate each year.
What is in it for members?
The Casa Grande Youth Alliance will meet a minimum of once a month throughout the 2020-2021 school year. By fulling participating in the Alliance, students will learn how to serve on a board, participate in committees and work teams, plan service projects and event, become leaders in their communities, and learn how to be a voice for youth in their community.
Youth Alliance members may serve up to 6 years, with a re-commitment form to be completed after each year. Re-appointment will be determined by participation and conduct and is at the discretion of the youth and adult leaders of the Youth Alliance. Only Youth Alliance members in good standing will be considered for serving additional terms.
Agreements of Membership
Serving as a member of the Youth Alliance requires a high degree of commitment, time and energy. Applicants will need to be able to dedicate real time and effort to the Youth Alliance.
Benefit of Membership
All members in good standing with the Casa Grande Youth Alliance will have the opportunity to earn $500 in scholarship funds to be awarded upon high school graduation. A student will be considered a member in good standing by earning monthly participation points for meeting the Agreements of Membership mentioned above.
This is Christina Petrin our Chair of the CGYA. She is a sophmore in high school and was born and raised in Arizona. When she attends college she plans to go to NAU to study Elementary Education and possibly work at the CGA.
Aniqa Khan is a Co-Chair and Chair of Volunteerism for the Casa Grande Youth Alliance. She is currently in eleventh grade, attending Vista Grande High School. When she's graduates, Aniqa plans to study Marketing & Economics at either Yale University or New York University.
Valia Kaliotzakis is the Co-Chair of the Casa Grande Youth Alliance. She is currently a sophomore attending Casa Grande Union Highschool. Valia plans to go into the Biotechnology or Biomedical work force after she graduates.
Sophia Jorda is a freshman in Casa Grande Union High School and is currently in their STEM program. She plans on being a civil engineer in the future
Haylie currently attends Casa Grande Union High School. One of her favorite things to do is play music and has been in band for five plus years. After high school, Haylie plans on going to The University of Arizona to be a Pediatric Nurse, since she's always enjoyed being with little kids and helping others.
Caitlyn Richter attends Mission Heights Preparatory High School. Her hobbies include cooking/baking, swimming, golf, and doing art projects. Caitlyn loves hanging out with family, who's always having fun together. She joined the Casa Grande Youth Alliance to be more involved with the community and also joined the National Honor Society to help give back to those around her. After High School, Caitlyn plans to attend college and open up her own breakfast restaurant/coffee shop. She looks forward to continuing to help the community and others, making them smile!
CGYA invites you to participate in our inaugural Virtual Leadership Conference for area middle and high school students and the adults who support them. The conference will include inspiring keynote speakers, meaningful workshop presentations, and area resources available for youth.
TAMING YOUR HULK MODE: DEALING WITH STRESS IN THE MOMENT
Claire Louge, Prevent Child Abuse Arizona
How does stress negatively impact your life? This workshop will delve into the body’s natural response to stress, and use this as a lens for understanding the impact of trauma on human thinking and behavior. Participants will learn simple stress-reduction techniques they can use anywhere, and learn how to apply the trauma-informed approach to their work with people. The content of this presentation is derived from the work of Robert Rhoton, Psy.D. and J. Eric Gentry, Ph.D. of the Arizona Trauma Institute.
Claire Louge is the Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Arizona, a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to preventing child maltreatment before it happens, and helping those who have experienced childhood trauma build resilience to its effects.
Claire obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Human Development from Cornell University and her Masters of Education in Human Relations from Northern Arizona University. Claire is also a Certified Trauma Support Specialist through the Arizona Trauma Institute, certified by the National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds to teach the Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors Framework and an authorized Stewards of Children® facilitator. She is a graduate of the American Express Leadership Academy at the ASU Lodestar Center and is also an AmeriCorps VISTA alumnus. Claire also volunteers her time to create and produce live-action role-playing adventure events for teens.
INFORMATION COMING SOON
ELECTED LEADER PANEL - ISSUES THAT MATTER TO YOUTH
Gilberto Mendez, CGESD School Board President
Mr. Mendez, a former student of the Casa Grande Elementary School District, attended Mesquite Elementary School and Cactus Middle School. He received a Bachelors of Science in Economics and a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from Arizona State University in 2017. Furthermore, he received a Masters in Global Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management in 2020. Mr. Mendez works for Abbott Laboratories as a data analyst within its nutrition division. He previously served as the Chairman of the Police Advisory Board for the City of Casa Grande. He now serves on the Executive Board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sun Corridor, an organization that provides after-school programs to students in Casa Grande, Arizona City, and Maricopa
ELECTED LEADER PANEL - ISSUES THAT MATTER TO YOUTH
Mayor Craig McFarland, City of Casa Grande
Born and raised in California, Mayor Craig McFarland has lived in Casa Grande since 2005. He is a graduate of the Cal State University Fresno and retired from Golden Eagle Distributors in January 2015 as VP of Sales after a ten-year tenure with the company, and 36 total years in beverage business sales management and operations.
Mayor McFarland began his first term as Mayor in December 2016, and his priorities include providing leadership, encouraging people, and promoting progress, in addition to increasing quality of life, encouraging new business, and supporting Casa Grande’s infrastructure and economic development.
McFarland has two children, Kelly and Scott, and five grandchildren, Dillan, Keira, Connor, Leila, and Brady. He has been married to his wife, Nancy for 39 years.
ELECTED LEADER PANEL - ISSUES THAT MATTER TO YOUTH
Supervisor Steve Miller, Pinal County Board of Supervisors
An Arizona native and resident of Pinal County for more than 45 years, Supervisor Miller took office in January 2013 as Supervisor of District 3 representing the Casa Grande region. Supervisor Miller was nominated by his peers on the board to be the first Chairman of the now five-member Pinal County Board of Supervisors.
Supervisor Miller previously served more than ten years on the Casa Grande City Council, giving him valuable experience in public service, budget management, and leading government out of more than one fiscal crisis.
Supervisor Miller’s professional experience was in the lumber and truss manufacturing business and as a licensed contractor for both residential housing and commercial development in Arizona and New Mexico.
Supervisor Miller has remained active in civic and political causes throughout his career. Always wanting to give back, he has volunteered over the years for many community organizations, from food banks to youth programs. He is also active in promoting economic development in all sectors; agriculture, manufacturing, and distribution centers, which has created long term employment for our local citizens.
He has now been named to several water committees by the Governor’s Office and was asked to Chair an ad-hoc committee that was called by Rep. Cook to address the Pinal AMA’s water profile.
With his wife Laurie, Miller raised three children who, as adults now, also call Pinal County home. They have six grandchildren.
SELF CARE AND MENTAL HEALTH
Anvi Bhakta, Southwest Behavioral and Health Services
Anvi is a Project Coordinator in the Prevention Department at Southwest Behavioral and Health Services. Her past education is in molecular biology, and she is particularly interested in understanding how our relationship to food impacts mental health and can increase resiliency through certain molecular mechanisms. She looks forward to further understanding this connection through her Public Health Nutrition/Registered Dietitian Master’s Program that she’ll be starting in the Fall. In her free time, Anvi loves to hike, eat all yummy food, travel and spend time with family.
Rick Miller, Kids at Hope
Rick Miller is the founder, CEO, and Chief Treasure Hunter of Kids at Hope, an international child and youth development organization that studies family, school, and community cultures to understand better the dynamics of success and failure. He is also the founder and Dean of the National Youth Development Master’s Institute which annually attracts our country’s top researchers and practitioners to further examine the science of hope and its impact on young people. Rick has spent 48 years in the field of child and youth development as a practitioner, researcher, teacher, public policy expert, and author. Rick’s research is revolutionizing the understanding of child and youth development and cultures. His work is modeled in 19 states and Canada and has been cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is the author of three books and two comic books. He has received Arizona State University’s Visionary Award; the City of Phoenix, Martin Luther King, Jr. Living the Dream Award; and the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge George Washington Medal. His many keynotes, workshops, seminars, and symposiums includes a TED Talk. Rick lives in Phoenix with his wife, Esther. They have two children and four grandchildren.
CREATING SAFETY: BEING A SUPPORTIVE ADULT
Angie Geren, Arizona Recovers
Arizona Adverse Childhood Experiences Consortium
Supportive adults and caring relationships are key to healing and also mitigating trauma however understanding what this really means is not always a given. By adulthood, we all have our own stories and past experiences that drive our daily interactions and affect us in a way that we are not always aware of, especially within the human services industry. This workshop will help adults understand what their personal trauma responses are and how to respond to them so that they are more effective at modelling emotional regulation. Also, we will discuss specifics on creating safe spaces and effective communication strategies especially when they are interacting with youth who have experienced trauma.
Angie Geren has been training a wide variety of audiences from youth up for the past 8 years on communication, substance use prevention, mental health, and trauma.
QUESTION, PERSUADE AND REFER - SKILLS TO ASSIST SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING OF SUICIDE
Julie Mack, Arizona Complete Health
QPR is an emergency mental health intervention. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer — the 3 simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people are trained in CPR which saves thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. QPR is considered a Gatekeeper Course. A gatekeeper is someone in a position to recognize a crisis and the warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide.
Julie Mack is a Prevention Trainer and Training Supervisor for over 30 years specializing in Behavioral Health, Suicide and general prevention knowledge.
WHY DOES IT MATTER - SERVICE TO COMMUNITY: THE WHYS AND HOWS OF TAKE ACTION PROJECTS
Maggie Myers, Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona
We will go through the basic steps for HOW to take action in a way that’s sustainable and addresses a root cause of a problem. Highlighting projects, with video snippets from local girls. We will speak about all the different benefits of service to others including the protective factors for community engagement and connectedness to adults. The power of service can be life-changing sending ripples of good through and into the community around us.
Soon after graduating from the U of A with a Master’s Degree in Public Health, Maggie Myers worked as a Coalition Coordinator to a Drug-Free Community Coalition in Marana, AZ. Passionate about prevention, I moved to Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, which I see through my public health lens as an amazing protective factor for girls and the community. As the Leadership & Life Skills Specialist at GSSOAZ, I work with girls of all ages to provide programming around leadership, service, and more. I coach older girls and provide regular trainings to middle and high school girls, both in-person and virtually, focusing on making things as engaging and interactive as possible!
Roberto Rivera, Co-Founder, CADRE LLC.
Roberto connects positive youth development to equity and equitable community development using culturally sensitive pedagogy. He has spent over twenty years in community-based youth development work around the nation and in Europe. He was once labeled an “at-risk student” with learning disabilities as a teen and overcame those labels to earn a college degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that he created, and a master’s degree in Youth Development from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He served as a Research Collaborator for CASEL while completing his pre-doctoral fellowship with the Social and Emotional Learning Research Group at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Named one of the “Top Young Change Agents in America” by Search for Common Ground Coalition, he strives toward revolutionizing the way organizations, from schools to corporations, can benefit through the use of more equitable practices. Roberto was named 2018 Forward Under 40 Award Recipient by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work is part of a permanent exhibit in the Illinois Holocaust Museum under their “Upstander” Exhibit, along with other education and civil rights leaders. He is a loving husband and proud father of two boys: Phoenix and Justice.
Pinal County Attorney, Mr. Kent Volkmer, strives to treat people with fairness, dignity, and respect. He was sworn in at a public ceremony on January 3, 2017. Upon stepping into his role as county attorney, Mr. Volkmer’s goal has been to create a system of individualized justice. Mr. Volkmer wants county prosecutors to look at each case on its individual merits and seek a penalty that fits each individual crime.
Kent Volkmer attended the University of Akron, obtaining both a law degree, with a certificate in Litigation, and his M.B.A. During his years in the private sector, operating his own law firm, Mr. Volkmer served local community members in a variety of matters including Juvenile Law, both Delinquency and Dependency, Family Law, Guardianships and Conservatorships, Probate, Wills, Estate Planning and Criminal Law.
TEACHING STUDENT ADVOCACY IN EVERY CLASSROOM
Youth can’t begin to engage in advocacy if they don’t first have knowledge of not only their rights but also the responsibilities of the adults who serve them. “I have a right to” and “you have a responsibility to” are two different statements. In this workshop, adults will be challenged to be more transparent and share power with students. Students will be challenged by their peers to inquire about the responsibilities adults have to them and hold them accountable. Both adults and students will gain insight, develop understanding, and plan to practice transparency and inquiry to encourage student advocacy.
Joshua Henry holds a B.S. in Psychology from Boise State University. He has served as a Behavioral Health Technician for indigenous youth in Arizona and as a secondary education teacher. Joshua is dedicated to helping impoverished families establish generational wealth through education and providing the financial means to build upon. Joshua Henry is a gifted speaker who has touched the lives of countless students through his in-class life lessons. Now, he is sharing those same lessons, full of truth and love, with everyone.
Leslie Russell, Arizona Attorney General's Office
This presentation discusses the crime of human tracking, how trackers and their victims, and steps teens can take to protect themselves. We also provide real-life examples of human tracking in Arizona and explain what you should do if you suspect someone may be a victim of human tracking.
Leslie Russell travels across the state educating and bringing awareness to help protect our communities, on various topics including but not limited to, suicide prevention, anti-bullying, internet safety and human trafficking. Leslie is a mother to four children and worked in public schools for over 20 years, before joining the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. During her time in public schools, Leslie primarily worked with visually impaired students as a braille transcriber.
Her greatest passion is still working with students. Leslie, through her role as an outreach and Education Coordinator, has helped thousands of students by giving them the tools to be aware of potential dangers and consequences of their actions (conduct) online and in the real world because keeping them safe is always her primary focus.
OVERLOAD! WHAT YOUR BRAIN IS REALLY TELLING YOU WHEN YOU'RE STRESSED (AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT)
Based on the latest research on the brain and mind, this session takes a look at what happens when we feel stressed and overwhelmed. Specific connections will be made to how long-term, unchecked stress impacts physical, emotional, and relational health. Then, using research and evidence from resiliency and stress management, the session will provide specific strategies to cope with life’s stressors.
Bryan Harris has served as an educator for over 25 years including time spent as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, elementary school principal, and district-level administrator. He has published 6 books and now serves full-time as a trainer and consultant.
INFORMATION COMING SOON!
Amy Potchen currently serves as CGA as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. She was born and raised in Okemos, Michigan. At Michigan State University she majored in Arts and Humanities with a pathway in community engagement and had minors in Spanish and Environmental Sustainability. After her year of service she plans to continue working with children and families and possibly attend graduate school. In her free time, she enjoys embroidering and being outside.
REDUCE THE NOISE, REDUCE YOUR STRESS
Does it ever seem to you that there is just too.much.NOISE? How we manage our stress, our self-talk and our choices makes a big impact on our health and our ability to engage in life. This workshop will provide information and tools that can help reduce the noise and reduce your stress. CAUTION: There will be ART! Simple, everyday household items will be repurposed to engage our creative brain to assist us in looking at “noise” from a different perspective.
Sandi Cimino has served as trainer and has provided parenting classes for a variety of audiences. including youth (primarily adolescents) for more than 10 years. She iis an independent trainer delivering trainings to educators, social service professionals, child welfare professionals and, occasionally, adolescents on the topics of adversity, stress, resilience, self-regulation and self-care.