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Tell It Like It Is

Teenage Bridge Builders

Teenage Bridge Builders
WORDS TO LIVE BY: Vivian English, a junior at Harlingen High School works on the lettering of a Precept which will hopefully inspire other young people. Tyler Manis, another junior, is painting the lettering on another symbolic quote located higher on the wall.

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April 4, 2011
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Harlingen, Texas, April 2, 2011: Most of the media accounts about young people and the annual Spring Break dwell on bikini clad girls and beer guzzling boys going wild at various beaches around the country. Almost lost among such reports are the stories of responsible teens that give of themselves, their time and their talents in an effort to assist those who might be less fortunate. These young students come from faith-based organizations, youth groups and schools and give of themselves so others can have an enhanced quality of life.

Such was the case this spring when students from Harlingen High School

In Deep South Texas gave up their holiday at the beach and instead, gave of their talent with the hope their messages will serve to improve the lives of other young people.

Americo Pena is a Cadet First Sergeant with the Army ROTC unit and a junior at Harlingen High School. He is also a gifted artist who has been engaged in his artwork since elementary school. Americo has spent more than a week working on a large mural that is the centerpiece of art on the wall of a physical fitness room. The art depicts a pathway leading across a bridge and ending on a hilltop with shining rays that signify a brighter life.

The room is an important locale in the former Harlingen police station, which is now being converted into a Community Outreach Center. It was felt this structure, which will house multiple youth related services would help create a bridge between young people and the community. A fitting name for the program is... “The Bridge”. This is a place where needs of young people will meet opportunities available to them in the community.

Program services will include such groups as the Aids Council, Criminon and Narconon who will assist young people with gang related, substance abuse and health related problems. The Gulf Coast program will be in place to help educate those seeking to receive their GED certification. Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District will offer dropout recovery education programs. Spiritual counseling and faith inspiring ministries will be available, as will general counseling and family services. Texas Workforce Solutions will also be onsite to screen youth and young adults for possible job placement.

Toward that objective Youth Build will be offering a strong vocational program, including the teaching of a variety of home building related skills. The Texas Workforce will be involved in job readiness, computer skills, job training and a job placement program. Texas State Technical College will be providing services, as will the Harlingen Family Dentistry Group and the Harlingen Sports Center. Physical fitness will be promoted as will training in boxing, yoga and dance.

The Harlingen High ROTC unit has been volunteering in the Physical Fitness Center to decorate the room and prepare it for the various programs that will be offered. Around the walls have been painted branches, which are symbolic of reaching out for the better things in life. The walls are also covered with a variety of slogans and statements, which are all precepts that should be life related guides for everyone. These too were hand painted by the high school volunteers.

Vivian English and Tyler Manis are both juniors at Harlingen High. Their Spring Break and the Saturdays following that holiday have been spent lettering percepts on the Physical Fitness Center wall. “Fulfill Your Obligations” was the statement being finished up by Vivian. She thought this might be her last day on the lettering project.

All of the labor and decoration of “The Bridge” outreach center has been accomplished by volunteers. Even the funding for the project is money donated by individuals and organizations. All of this is done with the objective of offering a comprehensive range of community based programs designed to provide opportunities for success to the youth and young adults of the community.
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