DEFY PROGRAM INSPIRES HILL TEEN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
(7/21/2008) Leadership Skills Learned in Program Prepare Youth for Participation in Local Pageant
NEW HAVEN- Three years ago, when Sheila Mendez began her participation in the Weed and Seed Camp DEFY (Drug Education For Youth) program through the New Haven Police Department, she never expected to become the strong leader she is today. “In the last three years, I have met very intelligent and important people through this program who have helped me become the person I am today,” said Mendez.
Now 13-years-old and a student at Truman School, Mendez is preparing to represent her Hill neighborhood and showcase the leadership skills she learned through Camp DEFY as she participates in the Nationals’ 2008 Miss Jr. Teen Hartford/New Haven pageant competition. “What I want to accomplish from this experience in the pageant is to help other teenagers realize that their dreams can come true if they believe in themselves, work hard and never let anyone put them down, all qualities that were reinforced in me at Camp DEFY,” said Mendez. “I’ve been fortunate to have spent the last three years learning to become a leader as well as learning about the effects of drugs and learning to stay away from them. I want to help other teenagers my age to say no to drugs. Through my participation in the pageant, I want to get this message out there.”
The Nationals’ 2008 Miss Jr. Teen Hartford/New Haven pageant will take place August 10. If Mendez wins the competition, she will participate at the national level in Orlando later this year.