Straight Up Ventura County 2014 Youth Drug and Alcohol Awareness Video Contest

Straight Up Ventura County announces return of youth video contest; seeks videos from young people ages 12-25; focus on drug and alcohol awareness 

Straight Up, the Ventura County-wide youth advocacy project, has opened its most recent video contest for submissions from young people in Ventura County.

Entrants can choose from topics on underage and binge drinking, impaired driving, prescription drug abuse (and the links to heroin use) and the impact to the adolescent brain with marijuana use. 

2011-2012 California Healthy Kids Survey results showed that Ventura County youth continue to abuse prescription drugs and use heroin and marijuana. For example, 20% of 11th graders and 14% of 9th graders have used prescription pain medications to get high. Marijuana use doubled for 5th graders between 2009 and 2012. Heroin continues to be an escalating problem -- several young people in Simi Valley and elsewhere have fatally overdosed in recent years. Often, the problem starts with prescription drug abuse with the user "graduating" to heroin for similar effects. 

Alcohol use and impaired driving also continue to be a local issue. In Ventura County, alcohol use is highest among 18- to 20-year-olds not old enough to legally purchase it, and is a factor in nearly half of all teen automobile crashes.

The contest is open to Ventura County young people 12-25 years of age who live or go to school within Ventura County. Short videos (30-90 seconds) are preferred, but longer videos are welcome as well. A grand prize of $500 will be awarded, as well as several runner-up prizes. Entries must be received by Friday, May 16, 2014. Winners will be announced on Friday, May 30.

Downloadable rules and guidelines can be found at Information sessions, training and equipment lending can be made available. Call 805.647.4622 with any questions.

Straight Up Ventura County (a project of Ventura County Behavioral Health Department Alcohol and Drug Programs) works closely with young people to raise awareness and create change around the issues of alcohol and drug abuse. Advocacy training, reality improv workshops and video projects are some of the way youth can get engaged and become empowered.

Winner of the 2013 contest:


Miss California United States Pageant Seeks Delegates for May 8-9 Event in Santa Barbara

Miss California United States Pageant is looking for 2014 Delegates!

Miss California United States Pageant is searching for delegates from around the state of California to represent her city or county in this prestigious state pageant

The Miss California United States Organization is preparing for its annual state pageant to be held on May 8 & 9, 2014 in Santa Barbara. Delegates from all over the state will meet in this beautiful historic area in hopes of winning the coveted crown and representing California in the National Pageant held this July in Washington DC.

The 2014 Miss California United States Pageant is looking for participants in the following categories; Miss Jr. Teen California United States between the ages of 13 and 15, Miss Teen California United States between the ages of 16 and 19, Miss California United States between the ages of 20 and 29, and Ms. California United States between the ages of 25 through 40. The delegates will be judged in four categories: judges' interviews, swimsuit/fitness, evening gown and stage question. Experience is not required.

Keeley Boess, 2013 Miss California United StatesDesigned to raise awareness and money for many local, statewide, and national charities, the Miss California United State Pageant encourages delegates to support their passions through philanthropic endeavors.  Much like a diamond refracts light, each woman sparkles by changing the lives of all those they touch. Christina Meredith, our 2013 Ms California, has worked with foster care programs and charities since becoming a state titleholder. Because of sexual and physical abuse, Christina entered the foster system at ten years of age and like most foster kids, she moved over 91 times. She became homeless after "aging out" of the system at 18. Since winning her title, she has toured the country with speaking engagements, written a book, and has become an inspiration to many of the lives she has touched. Keeley Boess, 2013 Miss California United States, who placed in the Top 10 at the Miss United States Pageant, is a certified air traffic controller and works tirelessly supporting Alex's Lemonade Stand to fight pediatric cancer as well as the Rett Syndrome Foundation at the LA Children's Hospital.

The Miss California United States titleholders will attend several important events during the month of March including the Susan B. Komen Run for breast cancer on March 1st at Dodger Stadium, ShredFest at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard on March 15th, for pediatric cancer, the LA Suitcase Party on March 21 to benefit the Grammy Museum and the dance marathon, Lights Camera Cure!, being held at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood on March 23 to aid pediatric cancer research.

Prizes for the winners include entrance to the Miss United States Pageant in Washington DC, a July photo shoot with our official photographer Anacapa Event Photography as well as Kardashian photographer Nick Saglimbeni, facials by Beven Sangi Skin Fitness, coaching from Sashes & Crowns, Spray Tans from Cali Color Spray Tanning, makeup from Rain Cosmetics,

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Building Dedication of the Cal & Marje Johnston Boys & Girls Club at Colina Middle School in Thousand Oaks Today

Today was the dedication of the new Cal & Marje Johnston Boys & Girls Club at Colina Middle School in Thousand Oaks. The program was kicked off by Board Chairman Gary Stephani, who welcomed Master of Ceremonies, Bob Eubanks, who in turn introduced other speakers, including County of Ventura Supervisor Linda Parks, Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Peña, Conejo Valley USD Superintendent Dr. Jeff Baarstad, representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Julie Brownley, Senator Fran Pavley and Assemblyman Jeff Gorell and other local leaders, as well as Cal Johnston himself.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley was formed to serve the more than 30,000 young people of our communities, providing them with excellent, time-tested programs that offer leadership training, character development, and programs in the arts, sports and fitness.

The organization was founded by Cal Johnston, a local resident and community leader, and Chairman of The Johnston Group, in Calabasas. Johnston is a national trustee of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and saw the need for Clubs in the Conejo and Las Virgenes area.

Master of Ceremonies Bob Eubanks kept the crowd entertained while introducing dignataries.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley currently operates Clubs at Los Cerritos Middle School, Colina Middle School and Redwood Middle School in Thousand Oaks, Sequoia Middle School in Newbury Park, Chaparral Elementary School in Calabasas and Lindero Canyon Middle School in Agoura Hills. For more information, visit

Cal Johnston sharing his passion for the Boys & Girils Clubs with hsi wife Marje and Eubanks looking on.


Conejo Valley Adult School "P.O.W.E.R. Project" for Pregnant and Parenting Teens

CVAS Parent Education Presents…THE P.O.W.E.R. PROJECT 

An Educational Support Program for Pregnant and Parenting Teens 

To help support the parenting success and academic achievement of our pregnant and parenting teens, the Parent Education Program has developed the P.O.W.E.R. Project (positive outcomes with education and respect).  The goal of the project is to provide specialized education and social/emotional support, specific to the pregnant and parenting teen. The program actively promotes healthy adolescent development, increases parenting skills, improves birth outcomes and provides a strong understanding of what teen parents and their children need.

Available Classes/Topics Include:

  • Pregnancy and Newborns (includes childbirth preparation and lactation support)
  • Baby Care
  • Parenting Education
  • Child Development
  • Teen Parenting- Preparing for your child’s first year
  • Adolescent Development
  • Child Abuse Prevention

Groups are held at Horizon Hills on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm. One to one consultations by appointment are also available (i.e.- family support, lactation counseling).

The P.O.W.E.R. Project is coordinated by Brenda Hunter, M.S. who has provided counseling and educational support for thousands of pregnant and parenting teens and their families, over the past 30 years. She specialize in teen pregnancy related issues, parenting education, child development, teen sexuality, and child abuse prevention. She is a credentialed Adult Education teacher who is a trained Lamaze Childbirth Instructor, Certified Lactation Consultant, and Certified Infant Massage and Red Cross CPR Instructor. She holds a BA degree in Sociology/Social Work and a MS degree in Human Resource Development.

For more information or to refer students please call 818-599-8420.

Conejo Valley Adult School Parent Education Horizon Hills Campus, 33 Greta Street, Thousand Oaks. 805-492-8837

Straight Up Ventura County "Just Talk About It" 2012 Youth Video Contest

JUST TALK ABOUT IT video contest for Ventura County young people intends to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS
A local youth organization is helping to kick off a new video contest intended to encourage people to "just talk about" HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention. 

Straight Up, a local youth advocacy and prevention organization, invites Ventura County young people, ages 14-25, to submit videos highlighting the importance of discussing HIV/AIDS prevention among family, peers, and the community. Groups or individuals are welcome to enter a short video, and Straight Up offers info sessions, equipment lending and other technical assistance.

Communication, such as dialog between a parent and child, is a critical element for prevention around such issues as HIV/AIDS, says Katherine Kasmir, Straight Up's Program Director. "As funding for HIV infection prevention gets reduced on governmental levels, it becomes increasingly important that dialog and education continues personally and locally," she says. "Lack of information, or misinformation, creates danger for young people, so it's important they're armed and ready to make healthy decisions."

Contest runs through November 29, 2012. Winners will be announced on December 13. 

Downloadable forms can be found at

Contact for more information: (805) 647-4622 or

Volunteer with the Segue Career Mentors Program in Ventura County

Do you ever remember saying "If i only knew then, what I know now."  Well many students facing challenges with school and their future could really benefit from hearing "what you know now."  Here is where you come in!

The Segue Career Mentors program invites you to participate in our campaign for student success by sharing your story, your path to the workplace, with students in local school classrooms. In just two minutes you may sign up on our website, pick a date that fits your schedule, receive a short Speaker's Guide, and make a huge impact in motivating students to strive for graduation and a successful transition into the workforce.  Give students the knowledge you wish you knew back then! Sign up at

Local Author Publishes New Adventure Novel Geared Towards Teens and Launches Book Caches in Local Mountains

Local author David Smith has written a new young adult action adventure novel about a boy named Kief whose life is thrown into a grand adventure when his dead grandfather leaves him a mysterious map on his birthday.  Beyond his action adventure novel for teens, David is offering his readers something more than a great story – the opportunity to go on their own personal adventure.

In the mountains surrounding the Conejo Valley from the Simi Hills to the Santa Monica Mountains, David has hidden copies of his book in old-style treasure boxes.  He calls it “Book Cache Adventures” and you can learn more about it at his website

After hiding the treasure boxes, he posts the GPS coordinates of their locations on his website and his Facebook page The Dark Eagles.  Young adventurers, along with their parents, can print maps using a link he’s provided on his website that will help guide them to the location.

The book and treasure box are the prize to the first person who finds them.  David hopes his story, and subsequent stories in the series to come, will inspire young people to get out and explore the world around them, and to never stop dreaming about their own possibilities.

His “Book Cache Adventures” are a small way he’s trying to encourage adventure in young people. “When we are kids, we dream and believe in all kinds of things.  Somehow as adults, we lose that spirit.  I hope to encourage and instill that adventuresome nature in kids so that they don’t lose it when they grow up,” David says.

Learn more about David’s action adventure novel The Dark Eagles – First Flight at his website .