LUK, Inc.’s North Central Community Action Team (NCCAT) would like to recognize Leighla Boucher as one of our February Youth Spotlight recipients. Leighla is in the 8th Grade at the Paxton Center School and was nominated by Jessica Maguire, an Adjustment Counselor at the school. Leighla was nominated for her service and inspiration to her school and community, and for her passion to make a difference. Leighla has been involved in Paxton Center School’s Stand For the Silent anti-bullying organization for two years and is currently the president. In addition, she recently became the Project 351 Ambassador and presented at a School Committee meeting. Project 351 is an organization committed to youth leadership through service.
Leighla has also single handedly organized several events to support staff. These included distributing Valentines throughout the school for students to fill out and hang up, making a video of recorded clips of students reporting grateful moments, and attempting to work with the PTO to ensure students had activities during their first COVID summer. Jessica Maguire said, “Leighla has really blossomed and inspired other students, as well as myself. She is amazing!!”
LUK, Inc.’s North Central Community Action Team (NCCAT) would like to recognize Andie Libby as one of our February Youth Spotlight recipients. Andie is a freshman at Mount Wachusett Community College and was nominated by Yamileyka Rojas, a staff member at MY TURN, Inc. in Fitchburg.
Andie was nominated because she exemplifies commitment and resilience towards achieving set goals. Since joining MY TURN in 2020, Andie has obtained her HiSET, and was accepted into the Pharmacy Technician Training Program at The Polus Center for Social & Economic Development, Inc. Andie has also begun her journey in higher education by enrolling at Mount Wachusett Community College and registering for her first credited course. Andie has contributed to her growth by stepping into new and unfamiliar experiences and remaining focused. Her growth mindset is evident in how she gathers resources and learns new skills to reach higher and overcome obstacles. Andie is also enrolled in the LUK program for community support, and contributes to the growth of services offered with her leadership and diligence.
LUK, Inc.’s North Central Community Action Team (NCCAT) would like to recognize Douglas Mata Sanchez as one of our December Youth Spotlight recipients. Douglas is in the 9th Grade at Fitchburg High School and was nominated by his GEAR UP teacher, Alex Sholtes. Douglas was recently accepted into the Honors Academy at Fitchburg High School and is an avid member of United Way Youth Venture of North Central MA. Through United Way Youth Venture, local students from elementary school to college level work in teams to identify and find creative solutions to problems in their communities. In the process, students develop leadership and communication skills, build confidence and are given chances to make lasting changes for others. During this school year, Douglas was the first student to run a completely virtual fundraiser to raise money for McKay Arts Academy.
Alex says the following, “Douglas is one of our phenomenal GEAR UP students! I have nominated him because he is a true leader in the Fitchburg community. He is hard working, caring, compassionate and always goes above and beyond. I've known Douglas for about two years now, and in those two years he has never stopped amazing me with his diligence, work ethic, and commitment to school and the community. I cannot wait to see where life takes him because I know he will be successful with anything he puts his mind to!”
NCCAT would like to recognize Arin Campbell for the December Youth Spotlight Award. Arin is a 16-year-old Junior at Monty Tech High School in Fitchburg, MA.. He has been nominated for the youth spotlight award by Amber Haney at LUK, Inc. because of his engagement on the STAND group at Monty Tech.
Arin has proven his leadership skills by spearheading the Black Lives Matter mural the STAND group created over the summer. His kindness, intelligence, dedication and passion towards social justice and other causes in life is unmistakable. Arin is not afraid to use his voice and stand up for what is right! Amber states this about Arin, “He is an extremely inspiring young person, and I believe he is going to do a lot of good in this world.”
Cali H. is a freshman at the University of New Hampshire and is studying Speech Pathology. Cali was chosen for the North Central Community Action Team’s November Youth Spotlight because of her love for helping others and giving back to her community. Cali started community service work at a young age while attending Lunenburg Lions Club meetings with her mother where she would prepare Thanksgiving baskets, meals, and more for community members in need. Cali joined the National Honor Society in high school allowing her to continue serving her community.
Cali’s favorite part of service work is the ability to make a difference in the life of another person. She recalled a time when handing out Thanksgiving baskets that a mother of four came up to her and thanked her and said that she would not have had the resources to have a Thanksgiving dinner for her family without the basket.
When asked why youth should get involved in community service Cali said this, “it completely changed my outlook on life and made me grateful for what I have. I just want to go out and help as many people as I can.”
Cali recommends youth interested in getting involved in community service should talk to their school and teachers and ask what they can do or bring an idea forward and run with it.
Cali believes that community service helped her stay away from drugs and alcohol because it showed her a different path in life to take. Cali explained, “Some places where you volunteer you see people struggling with addictions and because you see that struggle you choose not to do it.”
Cali’s future plans are to be a speech language pathologist or audiologist and work with children who are hearing impaired.
Empowering Youth and Embracing Self-Care Through Art
by Amber Haney
Throughout the month of May, LUK Prevention is encouraging youth in Central Massachusetts to consider the ways in which they are making time for their mental health and wellness while staying at home. Youth will be invited to create and submit artwork that centers around the theme “How I stay mentally well during physical distancing”.
With a strong focus on mental wellness, the hope is that this art contest will strengthen protective factors to aid in the prevention of youth substance use while youth are at home, practicing safe social distancing.
Everyone reacts to challenging situations differently, and may embrace varying coping skills and self-care strategies. The recent COVID-19 crisis has bestowed extraordinary challenge and hardship upon our world, and youth have been burdened with unique struggles, themselves. The LUK Prevention art contest encourages youth to consider the healthy and adaptive self-care strategies that work for them. The contest empowers youth to embrace their creativity and expressiveness, promoting an organic self-care practice, in itself.
LUK Prevention will proudly present select artworks on our social media pages following the close of the contest. It is our goal to empower youth in an art-making process that will yield artworks which will become catalysts for discussion around self-care and mental wellness. LUK Prevention will be publically sharing these artworks with the intention to inspire viewers to consider their own self-care practices, too.
Additionally, LUK Prevention will select three art contest winners based on predetermined age categories (10-13, 14-17, and 18-21 years of age). Winners will be awarded a bundle of high-quality arts materials to promote art as a continued means of self-care and self-expression.