Every year the KIDS Network – a countywide umbrella organization including members from public agencies, the courts, law enforcement, education, community-based organizations, school-linked programs and parent groups – honors young people for their contributions to the community. The annual Youth Impact Awards celebrate youth who have made a significant positive impact on their communities in Santa Barbara County. Nominations are received from members of the community, and all young people ages ten through eighteen living or attending school in Santa Barbara County qualify. The winners of the Santa Barbara County 2014 Youth Impact Awards were recently announced, and this year’s recipients are Ella Brewer of San Marcos High School, Fatima Cacho of Cabrillo High School, and the Leaders Establishing Great Ideas 4 Tomorrow Club at Ernest Righetti High School.
Winners were honored at the annual KIDS Network Youth Impact Awards ceremony on April 2, 2014 at the Santa Barbara County Education Office Auditorium. During the ceremony, winners highlighted their work in the community and received a certificate and acknowledgement at the Awards celebration. Ella Brewer of San Marcos High School along with her nominator Rose Linehan, project coordinator at Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, spoke about her service to the community including her involvement with Sansum Diabetes. In 2013, Ella began observing the work of Drs. Jovanovic and Castorino of the Santa Barbara Public Health Department. Every Tuesday for several hours she watched while the two doctors treated women with gestational diabetes. From this experience she became interested in the Summer2Move teen wellness program provided each summer at Sansum Diabetes.
With a focus on improving physical fitness and health literacy, Summer2Move participants become health advocates by adopting healthier lifestyles and motivating others to do the same. Ella voluntarily assisted Ms. Linehan with lectures covering diabetes, nutrition, exercise, stress management, and self-confidence. While maintaining a 4.33 GPA, Ella is currently a student in the Santa Marcos Health Academy, a tutor at “The Village,” a lettered athlete on the Varsity soccer team, and a member of the Kids Helping Kids program, Link Crew and Junior Statesman of America’s Traveling Debate Cub. In November of 2013 she traveled to Nicaragua for 1 week to work with children living in safe houses and trash dumps. In addition to these notable accomplishments, she continues her involvement at Sansum Diabetes by helping with the Seeds of Change program, a maternal health program designed to promote the health of women between pregnancies.
Ella will be starting college in the fall and is clearly on her way to reaching her lifetime goal of becoming a physician. She plans to become a cardiothoracic surgeon—a decision made in part due to her father’s struggle with atrial fibrillation since Ella was 8 years old. Accompanying him to medical appointments, she became fascinated with this field of study and has continued to seek opportunities to gain hands-on experience. Sansum Diabetes Research Institute is happy to have offered Ella the chance to expand her knowledge in the medical field while serving her community so substantially.