EVHS freshman to represent Virginia on D.A.R.E. youth board
From The Star Exponent.
Eastern View High School freshman Caitlin Walker is not yet decided on a career path, but she admires local law enforcement and stands ready to help her neighbor. That admiration and activism is translating to hands-on leadership with her recent appointment as the sole Virginia representative to the D.A.R.E. America Youth Advisory Board.
The Youth Advisory Board, initiated by D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) America in 2000, is comprised of 50 members – one per state – selected through a statewide search. The board of young people provides insight to D.A.R.E. America about the dangers they face and what can be done to help them lead safe and healthy lives free of violence, drugs and other negative behaviors.
“They are the voice of the youth for D.A.R.E. America,” said Rosaida Dumaliang, liaison for the advisory board, with the L.A. based organization founded more than 30 years ago. “Whenever we need youth feedback, we go to them first.”
Though advisory board members are appointed at the state level, the national organization provides guidelines for selection, she said, including being accomplished academically and involved in the community.
Walker easily met both of those requirements.
The 14-year-old is taking honors classes at EVHS where she is earning top marks and is involved in athletics. In addition, for the past three summers, she has attended and helped with the sports camps hosted by the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office. It was there that she first came in contact with local law enforcement, said her mother, Frances Hackley-Walker.
“Her attitude and will impressed them and they invited her to enroll in the youth academy offered this past summer,” she said. “Caitlin really enjoyed that week learning the many aspects of law enforcement.”
A CCSO deputy called the local mom at the start of the school year about an opening on the national youth advisory board, saying her daughter would be a wonderful fit, Hackley-Walker said.
“Caitlin wrote an impressive essay that accompanied her application and received several recommendations from teachers,” she said. “I am very proud of her and her appointment! She is a very smart and loving child and I love that she is always willing to help and does so willingly and happily.”
Last December, in fact, it was Caitlin – riding in the car with her mom and brothers on the way to school – who spotted an elderly man lying in his yard following an ice storm. Her keen observation skills likely saved the man’s life, who had been lying unnoticed on the ground for more than 30 minutes.
Hackley-Walker said she is proud of her daughter’s four-year appointment to the D.A.R.E. youth board, and excited at the opportunities it will afford her. Caitlin said she has enjoyed her time working with local law enforcement.
“It was really fun,” she said.
As for her upcoming work on the D.A.R.E. board, that should be “not too hard of a job,” said Walker, who graduated in sixth grade from the CCSO program. Upon her high school graduation, Walker will earn a $2,500 scholarship for her service on the youth board and will be eligible for the $20,000 D.A.R.E. scholarship.
Dumaliang, with the national D.A.R.E. program, said members of the youth board typically travel from all over the country for an annual conference. The past few years it’s been held at the D.E.A. Training Academy in Quantico. This year’s conference date and location has not yet been finalized, she said.