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CLASSROOM:Volunteer trailblazers

IN THE

Laguna Beach High School students find fun ways to help children and seniors in the community.

April 20, 2007|By Candice Baker

Dozens of Laguna Beach High School students have revealed their inner characters to the Disneyland Resort.

But Pluto, Minnie Mouse and Clarabelle Cow were far from the students' minds; rather, they collectively gave thousands of hours of their time to benefit nonprofit organizations in Disneyland's Show Your Character community service project program.

Students Madison Zraick, Ana Lincoln, Aprile Dale, Siara Barber-Crespo and Amy Briano chose to partner with Shanti Orange County, a nonprofit social service agency that assists those in the county affected by HIV/AIDS.

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The students were honored at the April 3 meeting of the Laguna Beach City Council.

"These were real trailblazers," Shanti Orange County Executive Director Susan Kasman said. "The goal was to learn the importance of volunteerism."

In addition to developing a questionnaire about HIV/AIDS, the students attended two AIDS education seminars, prepared food for meals to be distributed to the homebound and participated in Shanti's Sea of Hearts public awareness promotion.

"They are in the final phase of a video documentary, which will be shown at the May 3 HIV Advisory Committee meeting and also used in student health classes," Kasman said.

Part of the project was to find a public venue to make the presentation.

"We chose the City Council meeting," Kasman said.

Melting Colors

Other students chose to partner with Art & Creativity for Healing, Inc. of Laguna Niguel on a project called "Melting Colors." The nonprofit facilitates fine-art classes and workshops for children, teens and adults suffering from abuse, illness and grief. This was the nonprofit's third year of participation in the Disneyland program since its launch in 2004.

Forty projects were proposed by Orange County nonprofits; "Melting Colors" was one of 10 to be selected to receive a $7,500 "Golden Partnership Award" from the Disneyland Resort and is eligible for a $20,000 grand prize, the winner of which will be determined later this month.

"Melting Colors" was a cross-generational activity that involved children ages 6 to 12 at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Laguna Beach and senior citizens at Legion Hall and two assisted-living residences in Mission Viejo and Laguna Hills.

The project was designed to foster cross-generational connections to eliminate the barriers that separate three generations of a community: children, teens and senior citizens.

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