Arizona Youth of the Year

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Chantel Sanchez was recently named 2005 Arizona State Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Phoenix. Her experience included the Journey Program, where students learn leadership and public speaking skills. She now goes on to the regional competition, representing the more than 155,000 kids being served by Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Arizona. Sanchez is the first Hispanic woman to receive this award. She will be in the studio along with Bridget McDonald, Metropolitan Phoenix Boys & Girls Club Area Director and Program Coordinator for the Youth of the Year and Journey programs.

>>José Cárdenas:
Tonight on "Horizonte," this legislative session has had state lawmakers working on bills targeting immigration, financial aid for Hispanics, school funding for English learners and much more. Plus Latino protesters organized a boycott on working and shopping this week. And for the first time, a Hispanic woman receives the Arizona youth of the year award. You'll meet her next on "Horizonte."


>>José Cárdenas:
Good evening, I'm José Cárdenas. Welcome to "Horizonte." The major item hanging up state lawmakers is the settlement of the Flores lawsuit, namely funding for the costs associated with educating English language learners. Lawmakers have been trying to balance the requests for additional funding and the budget proposal that the legislature had been negotiating with the governor. Joining me now to talk about that and more is Richard De Uriarte of the "Arizona Republic." Richard, it's good to have you back on "Horizonte."


>> Richard De Uriarte:
Thank you, Jose, good to be here.


>>José Cárdenas:
Let's start with the Flores lawsuit. I should mention my law firm, not me is involved in representing some of the state defendants. What's going on there?


>> Richard De Uriarte:
They're negotiating behind closed doors as we speak and all throughout the day. That's one of the last few bills that need to be worked on before they can -- the legislators can adjourn sine die for this year. Basically the state lost a lawsuit back, Arizona V. Flores, that it hasn't been supporting in funding enough for English language learners. Currently we're talking about tens of millions of dollars extra. In fact, one study suggested that the state should add about $200 million to really reach all of the students. They're not going to do that. The figures that we're talking about is raising it from 15 million to 30 million as -- on the low side to up to 70 or 80 million on the high side. But this has always been put off to the side. It was even put off to the side in the governor's original budget back in January. So it's been out there. It's -- and they're working on it.


>>José Cárdenas:
As I understand, the people working on it include the Democrats who largely have been ignored in this legislative session, am I right?


>> Richard De Uriarte:
I think so, Jose, but generally this has been a session for where the Democrats and the Latino Democrats in particular have been off to the side complaining.


>>José Cárdenas:
Richard, before we get into all specific pieces of legislation that we are were considered, some of them approved, give me an overview of this legislative session as it impacts the Hispanic community. Of course there is a lot of immigration-related matters but there was a lot more, wasn't there?


>> Richard De Uriarte:
You know, it's interesting Jose we all talk about that we can't look at any community as just a single unit of only one person. There's a lot of diversity within the Hispanic community, and I think that this session shows. If you are, for example, a Latino business owner, second, third generation, owner of a restaurant, construction company, a landscaping company, you're about to receive a tax break of significant property tax reduction on this -- from this legislative session. If you're a state employee, specifically a corrections officer, of which there are many Latino officers, or a DPS officer, you're going to see your salary increases. State employees, university employees, state teachers, all of those are looking at very generous grants. Obviously the economy has enabled this. The growing Arizona economy and a tax structure which has been criticized by quite a bit over the years has provided funding for a lot of needs that the governor wanted and Republican legislators have delivered for those groups. If you're -- if you are -- you have children in kindergarten, state funding is going to supply full-day kindergarten for those reaching 80% of the -- of poverty. These are good programs that have expanded state services in many ways, whether it's domestic violence, education, and childcare. All these services have been expanded as Governor Napolitano pushed for and certainly benefit all Arizonans, including Latinos.


>>José Cárdenas:
And yet the focus, at least of many in the Latino community, seemed to be on what I think most would agree was an unusually large number of what some perceived as anti-immigrant proposals.


>> Richard De Uriarte:
You know, if you're an immigrant in Arizona, and there are several hundred thousand, certainly of the undocumented, it was a horrible session.


>>José Cárdenas:
More in terms of the rhetoric? A lot of this didn't get past the governor's desk.


>> Richard De Uriarte:
Yeah, but it was the legislative session that just has focused -- I think as an out -- as a product of the Proposition 200 last year. Also certainly a product of the elections in the -- back in the September primary, especially in the Republican, where so many moderates, Republicans, were ousted in favor of this very social conservative group of Republicans who have gone along with the anti-immigration. Immigration has become the hot button issue in Arizona and the United States, whether you go to Lou Dobbs on CNN or listen to J.D. Hayworth, it is the hot button. The legislation, I think, was aimed as accomplishing, look, if we can make things rough and tough in Arizona for immigrants, undocumented immigrants, then maybe fewer will come. So they attacked it in various ways, especially there was -- there are bills -- there were several bills.


>>José Cárdenas:
One of them being official English, which is not necessarily targeted at immigrants or people who are here without proper papers.


>> Richard De Uriarte:
But it's aimed at people who are from -- are strangers in our land. You know that there's this visceral movement of some legislators, lawmakers, Russell Pearce certainly was one, Collette Rosatti, but that if you're an American you ought to be speaking English. This is not different than has passed before. Official English passed in Arizona in 1988 by a vote of the people and then was ruled unconstitutional.


>>José Cárdenas:
What's also not different, in fact, if anything, as I understand studies indicate that the rate of assimilation of Hispanics is greater or -- as great or greater than it ever has been. So why this felt need to push these kind of measures?


>> Richard De Uriarte:
You know, I think that -- especially because right now we're not in an economic turmoil. A lot of anti-immigration comes at times of economic strife. This is not that time. I think it's -- you know, Jose, politics has always been cultural. There's a lot of cultural back -- you know, Irish are always against the Scotch-Irish and they're both against the English. You know -- you have a lot of that forever. There is a cultural mix in all politics.


>>José Cárdenas:
And I was joking about doing a show on the Irish and the Scotch-Irish, but the governor vetoed the English-only. She vetoed some other bills. Is that going to cost her down the road?


>> Richard De Uriarte:
I think the governor is going to certainly -- certainly not going to give Republicans an issue to use against her in 2006. And clearly much of this legislation was aimed at making the governor come out on it, thinking that, we got a prop 200 that passed easily, or with some ease. It went down from 72% popular opinion to 55, 56, but I think that they are. I think the governor is looking at measures that won't have so much VITREAL, not so much negative mean spiritedness that seems to have accompanied this. It's very interesting because the -- in California when California went very, very anti-immigrant, the Republicans took the heat on it and started losing statewide races after Pete Wilson, Mayor of San Diego, and former governor pushed those measures.


>>José Cárdenas:
Let me ask you about a couple other things, Richard. School vouchers, the measure that did get passed, is that a plus or minus for the Latino community?


>> Richard De Uriarte:
Vouchers itself did not get passed --


>>José Cárdenas:
The corporate tax credit.


>> Richard De Uriarte:
Corporate tax credit. You know, that's a divisive issue among -- you'll find very, very many people among Hispanics, certainly not Democrats as much, that figure, "we want an option, a choice from -- besides public schools," and those groups support vouchers, among the Latino community, among minority communities. When, however, the Republicans tried to push it, link it to the budget, the overall budget with the governor, the governor and the Democrats lined up against that. The corporate -- basically --


>>José Cárdenas:
Richard, there is one more thing I want to get to and we're almost out of time. We're going to have a video package coming up on the boycott. Your reactions and thoughts about that?


>> Richard De Uriarte:
Protests never accomplish too much. They often seed the moral high ground when you get people out there taking -- taking off from work and protesting with signs in Spanish. By the same token, these people who protested, who gave up, were clearly sacrificing. It's something admirable to take a risk for a social justice.


>>José Cárdenas:
Would you call it a success?


>> Richard De Uriarte:
I called it a success. It was a surprising success. Legislatively, they weren't going to win anyway. They're not going to change minds -- immigrants are power lust.


>>José Cárdenas:
Richard De Uriarte of the "Arizona Republic," thanks for joining us on "Horizonte." We'll have you back soon.


>>José Cárdenas:
Thousands of immigrants and people of Hispanic heritage stayed home Tuesday, in a planned protest of anti-immigrant legislation. By not working and shot shopping, organizers of the one-day protest hoped to send a pledge to the powers that be in Arizona that immigrants are important to the economy and shouldn't be treated as second-class citizens. Paul Atkinson has more.


>> Paul Atkinson:
They showed up in work uniforms, some carrying signs, others waving flags. Fast-food workers, auto mechanics, landscapers and construction workers. Many didn't show up to work at all. Others went to work, then took off.


>>Daisy Medina:
All of us, we left our job. We went in there, you know, we left -- everything started and we just came here to just support our people and -- just wanted to make sure everyone knows that we want things to change in the laws. No more laws.


>> Paul Atkinson:
Daisy Medina is referring to a number of laws that legislators have passed, as well as Proposition 200, which denies certain welfare benefits to people who are not legally in the United States. Another big issue is driver's licenses, which are unavailable to people who do not have proper documentation.


>> Moises Cook:
I'm a superintendent for a construction company and -- actually I'm asking everybody to come over here and also help. What's going on is like a lot of people want driver's licenses in the construction industry. These are hard working people. The construction company I'm working for only 10 people out of 220 people showed up. So, the 10 people had to go home. You know what? They didn't have drivers, they were short. So they had to go home.


>> Paul Atkinson:
The organizer of the protest, Elias Bermudez tells the crowd they need to take -- the state needs to take a more respectful approach to hard working immigrants.


>> Moises Cook:
We're here to actually -- we come with solutions. We're going to work with the government as far as finding solutions to immigration. We want to have a policy to help everybody here to actually have documentation, to pay the fees, and become legal, not with like all the obstacles there is here every day with immigration.


>> Paul Atkinson:
The protest may help rally a community whose workers are widely seen but whose voice is rarely heard. However, it may come at a personal sacrifice for those who risk losing their jobs by not showing up for work.


>> Daisy Medina:
We're not afraid because, you know, they can't fire all of us. Our boss did tell us, you know, before we walked out, she's like, you guys can go, but you know, I'm going to call the principal and you guys might lose your job. We're not afraid.


>> Paul Atkinson:
That sentiment is only expected to grow as more immigrants begin to speak out in defense of themselves.


>>José Cárdenas:
Another protest is planned for July 4th. Immigrants and people of Mexican heritage are asked to not shop for three days starting on Independence Day.


>>>José Cárdenas:
The boys and girls club youth of the year program recognizes young people for service to their club, community and family as well as their academic performance. Each club selects a youth of the year who enters a state competition. The winner goes onto a regional competition. Regional winners receive a $5,000 scholarship and enter a national competition held in Washington D.C. The national youth of the year gets an addition $10,000 scholarship and is inducted by the president of the United States. This year our winner is Chantel Sanchez. She is the first Hispanic woman to receive this award and will join us in a moment. First, Merry Lucero tells us about the program that preps the youth of the year.


>>Mike Cocciardi:
You guys want to play, right?


>> Merry Lucero:
Shooting hoops after school is good. But kids enrolled in the girls and girls club learn more, they learn health and fitness, take place in sports, arts programs, work on their education, future careers, build character and possibly most importantly, life skills.


>> Mike Cocciardi:
I got out of boys and girls clubs maturity, just growing up with a whole different group of kids every year it was a whole different group of staff. I just got different points of view of life and it just brought me up different than I would have if I wouldn't have been here.


>> Merry Lucero:
Each boys and girls club branch selects a participant for the youth of the year program. Metro Phoenix has 10 branches.


>> Carlos Samono:
Basically there are 10 kids who are outstanding within the organization who have done outstanding things in the community in their own club, at school. So it's basically complete kid who embodies what the boys and girls clubs does and what the clubs teach.


>> Mike Cocciardi:
Come on, you're first. All right.


>> Merry Lucero:
The youth of the year winners often enjoy working with younger kids, offering their own special gifts.


>> Mike Cocciardi:
Oh --


>> Mike Cocciardi:
I like to spend mime time in the gym, kind of play kick ball, whiffle ball, teach them a little bit of fundamentals of different stuff.


>> Teon Young:
Cinderella lived with her stepmother --


>> Merry Lucero:
Many have their own Cinderella stories, rebounding from adversity in their lives and giving back what they gained.


>> Teon Young:
I spent a lot of my time in my learning center at my club, and as I got older, it only came natural for me to want to do the things that other people had done for me. I think that's part of the reason why I did so well in some of my classes and excelled in certain areas because I had the help. I felt it's only right for me to do that also.


>> Mike Cocciardi:
Put the bat on your shoulder like that. There! All right!


>> Merry Lucero:
Once on base, the youth of the year winners go into the 16-week journey program.


>> Teon Young:
Every week you learn something different. We did healthy relations classes, toastmasters, and etiquette. So we learned pretty much a large variety of things, talking, how to do public speaking, and interacting with others, and we applied those all to the program.


>> Merry Lucero:
They learned teamwork, public speaking, leadership and something called value clarification.


>> Teon Young:
What's right and what's wrong. They're able to use that knowledge and truly use it in their life to make the right decision.


>> Merry Lucero:
Skills they will use throughout their whole lives as they travel on their own journeys.


>> Mike Cocciardi:
Nice try!


>>José Cárdenas:
Here now is Arizona state youth of the year Chantel Sanchez. And Bridget McDonald area director of metropolitan Phoenix boys and girls club. And youth of the year and journey coordinator. Chantel, Bridget, thank you for joining us on "Horizonte." Chantel, what branch are you from?


>> Chantel Sanchez:
I'm from the Peoria branch.


>>José Cárdenas:
Yours is a very interesting story. Tell us about some of the things you did that resulted in you becoming youth of the year.


>> Chantel Sanchez:
I have been part of the club since I was 5. So I have been part of the club for 12 years now. I have always just loved the club. My dad used to actually even go there. So I started to go and I just fell in love with it. You got to meet so many different people, you get to play when a whole bunch of games, get to learn different things. I actually was able to learn -- go through junior achievement, talking with TJ, all the different curriculums they have inside the club. While you are owe' there having fun you can learn about things.


>>José Cárdenas:
Chantel is there one person you would say has had the most impact on your life and whom you would credit with your winning this award.


>> Chantel Sanchez:
I think it would be a cross between two people, actually Bridget McDonald because she was there when I was young and then Ernie Hall through the teen years. She's actually teen coordinator. So they both have had a tremendous impact on my life.


>>José Cárdenas:
What way?


>> Chantel Sanchez:
They've always been there. They've always supported me through everything I've done, no matter what I'm going through. They're always there to pick me up and give me that extra boost to go the extra mile.


>>José Cárdenas:
Bridget that's quite a tribute to you. Tell us a little bit about how you met Chantel and more specifically about the journey program.


>> Bridget McDonald:
I met Chantel when I took the position as branch manager and she was just knee high to a grasshopper. She was one of the first kids that launched her way into my office to say hello. I'll never forget that she came in and said, we share the same birthday, and we have to be friends. That was it. It's been that way since I've known her. She has grown up into a beautiful young woman. I think a lot of credit comes not only her family but from that interaction with the boys and girls clubs. Going through those doors makes a difference in her life and now going ought those doors she has a ton of opportunity.


>>José Cárdenas:
Part of what got her to this point is this journey program. Tell us about that.


>> Bridget McDonald:
As we go through the boys and girl club, the kids that are there, that we want to recognize, we choose the best of the best for this obvious award. When we choose those kids, each year we take them through a 16-week journey program and bring together 10 of the best of the best from our 10 branches. They don't know one another. They go through a whole lot of different kinds of training, healthy relationships, we do toast masters training, we give them an opportunity to learn a little bit about speech writing and giving those speeches, we do social things. They create friendships and memories that will last a lifetime but they also leave this journey with skills that will prep them for adulthood and be good citizens.


>>José Cárdenas:
We saw a couple of them will you of those outstanding young people on the video, Mike anti-on. Tell us about them and what branch they're from.


>> Bridget McDonald:
Mike Cocciardi represents the Stewart branch and Teon junk from the Holmes branch at 16th Avenue and Sherman. What makes Mike special and what makes Teon special is they've used the services at the club. They are club kids. They've come, they've stayed, they continue to participate. And I think that in doing that they've grown not only from being children who receive a lot of things from the boys and girls club but to now understanding that they're responsible for giving back as well. That they have to take part in their community and to give a little bit back and Teon does that in his own very special way. He works at the boys and girls club. He volunteers all over the place. You know, he's got quite a resume of things that does he. Mike has been a junior staff at the boys and girls club and he now mentors younger kids. He's a baseball player, and he likes to teach those kinds of things to kids, too. So it's an opportunity to not only learn but to become a leader, and that's what these kids are, they're leaders. They're fantastic leaders.


>>José Cárdenas:
Chantel, I think everybody would agree your story is an impressive one and inspiring one under any circumstances but as I understand it, you also had a near death experience that you're recovering from. Tell us about that.


>> Chantel Sanchez:
Well in my sophomore year the first semester, in a chair accident I got injured in my kidneys. So I went to the doctor and they tried to look at all my organs and they couldn't find anything because there was a big mass in the way. So we go to the hospital and turns out I had a 15-pound tumor that used to be in my left fallopian tube. We actually had to go through --


>>José Cárdenas:
Which untreated could have cost you your life.


>> Chantel Sanchez:
If it would have burst, which by the grace of God it didn't, and they kept it in tact. They biopsyed it and it was found to be malignant.


>>José Cárdenas:
What's been the most useful part of the program for you?


>> Chantel Sanchez:
Probably all the people and the support they always give you because no matter what, we're all winners. All these kids and all of us, everywhere throughout America, we're all winners and we all have that support that no matter what happens they're always going to be there and help us through everything. Saying that, you know what, this might not happen for you, but there are opportunities in life that are going to happen because of this, and because of all these programs and all these people have that instilled skills into your life.


>>José Cárdenas:
Bridget, Chantel the first Hispanic to win this award, is that significant?


>> Bridget McDonald:
Absolutely. What an opportunity for her to lead the way, especially to the kids that come after her, especially in the boys and girls club but throughout not only the Valley and the state and the nation. The opportunities are there to say, see what can happen? And she's an example of that. Boys and girls clubs are kind of thought of as the place where the bad kids maybe go or maybe the less fortunate kids and that's not true. Any child can be a member at a boys and girls club, any child.


>>José Cárdenas:
What's the proportion of Hispanic children in the boys and girls clubs?


>> Bridget McDonald:
I think it would probably depend on the location. The location where Chantel is at in Peoria is a higher number. Probably somewhere near 60% in her clubhouse. Now, that will vary as you go to different areas of the city and we're all over the city. But what she can do then is she can show those little girls who look up to her that staying in school and participating in her boys and girls club and studying. And just choosing the good things to do in life will take her to places that she didn't expect to go.


>>José Cárdenas:
Is there some kind of formal mentoring program?


>> Bridget McDonald:
More informal, I think than formal. With the staff that staff our facilities, those are the good people, those are the people that lead the kids. You know, I wouldn't have known really that I had that kind of impact on Chantel. I didn't set out to do that. But now that I know I did, I can't pinpoint a time or a place that I would have made that impact. So I'm hoping that just by interacting and participating a daily basis and leading with good decisions and all that that, you know, maybe I am a role model.


>>José Cárdenas:
Is there a need for more Hispanic adults to participate in the program?


>> Bridget McDonald:
Absolutely. There's a need for all people to participate in this program, any kind of volunteering. Hispanic or not is going to break all kinds of barriers, and we need more of that.


>>José Cárdenas:
Chantel, when the regional youth of the year event?


>>José Cárdenas

Bridget McDonald:
It's in July the 19th -- no, the 9th, 10th and 11th, I believe.


>>José Cárdenas:
What about the national?


>> Bridget McDonald:
I don't think they set a specific date for that yet.


>> Chantel Sanchez:
That usually lands in September.


>>José Cárdenas:
We only have a few seconds left. Tell us about your future plans.


>> Chantel Sanchez:
Well, I want to become a doctor/astronaut. So what I am going to do is go to ASU west for four years, then go to medical school so that I can get all my emergency medicine, and then hopefully go into the Air Force and Air Force take me to astronaut.


>>José Cárdenas:
Those are big plans. I'm sure you'll achieve them, though. To read more about Chantel's story, you can find a link to the Metro boys and girls club on our web site. First go to www.azpbs.org. Click on "Horizonte" and follow the links. Thanks so much for joining us tonight on "Horizonte." I'm José Cárdenas. Have a great evening. We'll see you next week.

Bridget McDonald: Area director, Metropolitan Phoenix Boys and Girls club;

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