Category Archives: Youth

Ventura kids get ready for summer thanks to YMCA swim programs

Summer is just around the corner and the Ventura Family YMCA encourages children and parents in our community to explore the many benefits of swimming, while also keeping safety top of mind. In Y swim programs, participants can enjoy water sports, enhance or learn new techniques, meet new friends and develop confidence, while also learning safety skills that can save lives.

“Drowning poses a threat to the health and well-being of people nationwide, particularly among children. Research shows that participation in aquatics safety programs and swim lessons significantly reduces the risk of drowning, said Margo Byrne, Chief Operations Officer, Channel Islands YMCA. “Teaching children how to swim and be safe around water not only saves lives, it builds confidence and is an important life skill.”

As part of National Water Safety Month in May, the Ventura Family YMCA encourages parents to take an active role in fostering a relationship between their children and swimming—beginning with water safety.

In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, children can increase their physical activity by swimming. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem. It also teaches life lessons of sport and sportsmanship, so that children can learn how to work well with teammates and coaches and how to deal with winning and losing.

As a leading nonprofit committed to youth development, the Y has been a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety for more than 100 years. The Ventura Family YMCA continues to help youth and adults experience the joy and benefits of swimming, so they can be healthy, confident and secure in the water. There are a variety of programs to choose from. To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate, financial assistance is available to those in need to help cover the costs.

For more information at the Ventura Family YMCA, visit or call 642-2131.

“Spring On” student exhibition at Ventura College Santa Paula through June 1

Ventura College Santa Paula and Santa Paula High School are proud to announce their partnership in curating a spring semester student exhibition, Spring On. The student exhibition opened earlier this month at the Ventura College Santa Paula site (957 Faulkner Road 106, Santa Paula).

Created to celebrate and showcase art work created by students, faculty, and alumni, the collaborative exhibition capitalizes on the strong partnership between Ventura College Santa Paula and the Santa Paula High School. “We remain committed to the arts in education,” stated Ventura County Community College District Board Chair Bernardo Perez.  “We value our partnership with the Santa Paula High School and look forward to participating in this exhibition.”

Spring On… shows at the Ventura College Santa Paula site through June 1. Gallery Hours are Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 8:30 pm.

A Night to Remember: A prom for students with special needs

Mission Church is set to sponsor the sixth annual A Night to Remember, a free prom for students with special needs, to be held at the Ventura County Fairgrounds on Friday, May 19th  beginning at 6:30 p.m.

“Right now, there are over 400 special needs guests (ages 12-25) registered for the night, and each will be accompanied by a host for dinner and dancing,” explained Mike Hickerson, Lead Pastor at Mission Church. “More than 1500 volunteers will ensure that it is indeed, a night to remember.”

The night includes dresses and tuxes (provided ahead of time), hairstyling, makeup and corsages or boutonnieres. There is also a limo ride followed by a walk down a red carpet cheered on by paparazzi.

Professional prom photos will be taken and given to the guests at the dance. There will be catered hors d’oeuvres followed by an evening of dancing and fun with music provided by a live DJ.

City of Ventura names 2016-2017 Green School Award winners

Juanamaria Elementary School honored by Ventura City Council. Photo by Michael Gordon.

In celebration of Earth Day, the Ventura City Council presented the annual Green School Award for achievement in environmental excellence to students and staff from Juanamaria Elementary School and ATLAS Elementary School. 2017 Watershed Hero Award Winner! These prestigious Green School Awards) were presented on Monday, April 17th in front of the City Council in honor of Earth Day.

This year’s winners, Juanamaria Elementary School and ATLAS Elementary School, created programs and projects that increase recycling, build wildlife habitats and reduce waste and water consumption.

“Many public and private schools in Ventura have been working hard to demonstrate environmental leadership in our community,” said Haili Matsukawa Environmental Services Specialist at Ventura Water. “Every year since 2007 the City of Ventura has recognized and encouraged those school efforts through nominations and selection of a competitive annual ‘Green School’ award, presented in partnership with Agromin Premium Soil Products and EJ Harrison & Sons, Inc. who provide the annual $500 cash award.”

Students and staff at ATLAS Elementary School have demonstrated excellence in sustainability through their recycling, electronic waste and battery collection programs. Starting at a young age, students at ATLAS Elementary School are taught to be good stewards of the environment. In their Makerspace classroom, students engineer their own designs out of recyclable materials. In recognition of their efforts, the City will present them with the 2016-2017 Environmental Leadership Award.

Juanamaria Elementary School has made extraordinary efforts to conserve water by converting turfed areas into sustainable landscapes. Students of all ages were involved in mulching and planting of the school’s new Science Garden. In an upcoming project Juanamaria Elementary School has partnered with Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Garden group to design a water wise reading garden for students and teachers to enjoy nature. For this reason, Ventura Water will present them with the 2016-2017 Watershed Hero Award.

For more information about the City of Ventura’s Green School Awards program, visit or contact Brandon Kaysen, Environmental Sustainability at 652-4593 or Haili Matsukawa, Ventura Water at 652-4501.


Organization is dedicated to helping families who are battling all forms of cancer

Emanuel Franco and Cory Harper (musicians), Nathaniel Curran and Matt Coulter (Co-Founders of The Young and Brave Foundation), and Mike Morrison and Seth Gibson (Co-Founders of MadeWest Brewery) are supporters of The Young and Brave Foundation.

The Young and Brave Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping families who are battling all forms of cancer. From the beginning, the theme of the foundation has been Love. Co-founders Matt Coulter of Ventura and Nathaniel Curran of Oxnard grew up surfing the local beaches together. When a loved one was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, Coulter and Curran brought a community together to help fight this disease and to prove that love beats cancer. The nonprofit earned its 501(c)(3) status in March of 2011 and hit the ground running to help as many families as possible.

Once a person is diagnosed with cancer, they can apply to be a Warrior supported by The Young and Brave Foundation. The foundation supports its Warriors in overcoming their challenges by providing a streamlined fundraising platform, hosting events, raising awareness, and advocating for children and families who are dealing with cancer. Each Warrior is provided with a free online profile where they can share vital information, photos, and where they can fundraise. 100% of contributions raised through each profile goes straight to the Warrior and their fight for life.

The foundation operates many programs. One program, #LOVEbeatscancer, encourages cancer survivors to share their stories with the community to encourage others and to remind them that no one fights alone. #LOVEbeatscancer survivor stories are posted on the foundation’s website. Additionally, the foundation’s “Operation Turkey Day” happens every year in November and involves a full Thanksgiving meal served to patient families at several hospitals across the U.S.

Over the years, The Young and Brave Foundation has built partnerships with individuals, groups, and businesses around the world. Today, the reach of the foundation extends far beyond Ventura with Warrior families and supporters across the globe. “We are humbled and inspired by the incredible support we’ve received from so many people, all of them are part of our Young and Brave family” said Matt Coulter, Co-Founder and Executive Director.

With a robust social media presence, followers can stay connected with the Young and Brave cause and community. Follow @theyoungandbrave on Instagram and The Young and Brave Foundation on Facebook. Potential Warriors and their families can be nominated online at

The Young and Brave Foundation is proud to have given away over a million dollars. Their flagship location is set to open in Ventura this summer.

Girl Scout Camporee 2017

Camporee is a Girl Scout event where more than 6,000 girls Southern California get together to sing, dance, perform live stage performances, participate in outdoor programming, and do fun teambuilding exercises. Girls learn skills such as Stargazing, fire building, safety, how to use a compass, and knot tying. Some girls go for the day while others camp-out all weekend.

This year’s Camporee took place at Camp Arnaz in Ojai on March 25, and had a superhero theme. The girls spent time writing cards of gratitude to be shared with “super heroes” in our community. Several community super heroes were invited to share their knowledge with the girls. Local law enforcement from the Sheriff and Highway Patrol offices came to share safety tips with the young scouts.

Ventura Family YMCA wants kids to “Charge into Summer”

On Saturday, April 29, the Ventura Family YMCA is holding a free community event to inspire more kids to keep their minds and bodies active at the annual YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day®, the Y’s national initiative to improve health and well-being for kids and families. The event features activities to motivate and teach families how to develop healthy routines at home.

The Ventura Family YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day takes place at 3760 Telegraph Rd. from 10:00am – 1:00pm and features fun, active play and educational activities . Meet Lorenzo Booker, NFL Running Back, graduate of St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura.

YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, celebrated at over 1,600 Ys across the country by over 1.2 million participants, works to get more kids moving and learning, creating habits that they continue all summer long.  When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Research shows that without access to out-of-school learning activities, kids fall behind academically – this summer learning loss is more pronounced among students from low-income families.

“Healthy Kids Day is a signature event at the Ventura Family Y and families attend year after year. It’s a great day, partnering with other like-minded individuals and organizations to encourage families and children to lead healthy lives, together “said Julie Obrien, Youth Programs Director, Ventura Family YMCA.

For more information, contact the Ventura Family YMCA at 642.2131 or visit




High school seniors win college scholarships from Edison

Michael’s life changed when his mom was diagnosed with cancer.

Five high school seniors from Ventura County have each won a $40,000 college scholarship from Edison International in their pursuit of a STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) degree. The students are among 30 students from throughout Southern California Edison’s service territory who were chosen for their academic success and demonstrated financial need as part of the $1.2 million Edison Scholars Program.

The winners were Juan Carrillo Channel Islands High School, Oxnard, Jesus Contreras Magana

Santa Paula High School, Santa Paula,,Mireille Vargas,Santa Paula High School, Santa Paula,,Gissele Vazquez Oxnard High School, Oxnard and Michael Morrissey Hanson Ventura High School, Ventura.

Michael’s life changed when his mom was diagnosed with cancer when he was 13. He helped care for his mom through her medical procedures and took care of his younger brother. Michael wants to find ways to protect natural water resources and ensure that all people have access to safe drinking water. He is also an Eagle Scout and a member of the track and field team at his high school.

Boys & Girls Club making news

Giselle and  her little sister in front of their story board.

March is always an exciting month for the Club.  Not only is spring fast approaching, but it also marks Boys & Girls Club week and the time we come together for their kids during this year’s Power of One/Youth of the Year Celebration.  The event which has evolved over time, has taken on a life of its own and plugs in local business leaders and community members with the Club’s past successes over the year.

The event which was held at the Wedgewood spotlighted Elementary, Middle School and High School age Club kids.  All of whom had been selected on the basis of excelling in the values of leadership, service, academic excellence and healthy lifestyles. Yet the best part of the evening is always when the kids have the chance to share their narratives.  Some telling about their school successes, others about challenges that they had to overcome, but each shared in common a story about the Club and how it inspired their life.

Among other things, the event also kicked-off the Power of One/Youth of the Year Campaign, which promotes the spirit of philanthropy within the community.  The campaign helps draw in much needed financial support necessary to spread the cost of running all four Club locations throughout the year.  When all spoken for the Club delivers top-level programs to 1,300 children and teens; a snack and meal once a day; while also providing kids shuttle service at free or reduced cost.  All the while, still ensuring the maintenance and safety of all four facilities; and working together with 43 staff and 100 dedicated volunteers.  In all, the logistics of coordinating busses, programs and children can seem like an energizing, but sometimes daunting task.

And as quality programs continue to improve and grow at a steady stream, so does the demand for kids wanting to join; which CEO, Patti Birmingham, attests is always a good problem to have.  And despite a lean budget, she and her team continue to find balance and creative ways to keep the magic alive.  As one volunteer attests, “It may take hard work to keep the doors open, but it is the kids and families that keep coming back, time after time, that inspire us to continue our mission.”

Rabobank, N.A. has donated a total of $17,500 to four Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Ventura County. The funds will support youth programs and fundraising events at the following local club locations: Camarillo, Moorpark, Oxnard/Port Hueneme and  Ventura.

Casitas Rowing makes finals in 27th annual Long Beach Invitational

Photo by Wendy Gillett

Recently Casitas Rowing made finals with every squad at the 27th annual Long Beach Invitational. The race that brought in over 24 different rowing teams from 4 different states is a challenging three day event. The Casitas Rowing kids also medaled in 3 events including a Varsity Girls boat seen here with their bronze medals. The boat included Kaylie Dawson, Jackie O’connor, Rebecca Moya, Lisa Leap and Hannah Hassien. Summer Class signups are at