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Teen honored for anti-drug efforts

October 30, 2001|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer
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Once in awhile, a student stands out from the crowd because of athletic ability, grades or popularity.

Francisco Cano stands out for helping others.

The 16-year-old Cano says he's just an average teen-ager, but this average teen-ager was recognized for his leadership in helping fellow students be drug-free.

On Oct. 16, the county Board of Supervisors proclaimed Oct. 20 a day to honor Cano in recognition of his leadership at Central Union High School and his contribution to the school's Friday Night Live Drug Free Club.

"People think all teens do drugs and we all don't," Cano said.

Cano is president of Friday Night Live, an after-school club. The club's purpose is to give teens something to do after school other than get into trouble, Cano said.

Club members counsel, educate and do community service to help other teens, Cano said. There are about 20 members in the club who meet regularly to talk about problems related to drug use, he said.

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"Whatever is said in the club, stays in the club," Cano said.

Drugs have affected Cano personally. He has a relative who is in a drug-rehabilitation program. Cano said his relative got involved in gangs and drugs and warned him to stay away.

"We don't approach the kids using drugs. They come to us when they're ready," he said.

At least two students came to the club for help getting off drugs, former club counselor Vanessa Moysa said.

"As far as I know they are still not using," Moysa said.

Moysa, 21, of Seeley, worked with the club while participating in Imperial Valley College's AmeriCorps program at Central. Moysa nominated Cano for the county recognition.

"One thing I learned from working with the club is you can't tell who's a drug user. A lot of kids who look like they do, don't. Usually, it's the kids who get good grades who use drugs," Moysa said.

The club is struggling recently because it does not have a faculty adviser. Moysa cannot help as the adviser because she is not enrolled in college this semester.

Without an adviser, the club has not been able to meet since school started in September, Cano said.

In addition to his work with the club, Cano, a high school junior, volunteers two hours a week at the District Attorney's Office. He helps with the Tri-County South Regional Tobacco-Free program to encourage people not to smoke.

He also participates in the Advancement Via Independent Determination program that helps prepare students for college.

Cano would like to major in psychology in college and said someday he would like to help counsel criminals.

Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 760-337-3452 or la_mitchel1@yahoo.com

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