BENNINGTON — The Bennington-based Alliance for Community Transformations has announced seven local students who have been accepted into the Youth Ambassadors program.

Since the program started four years ago, ACT youth ambassadors have performed many services for the community, including picking up litter and cleaning the windows of empty storefronts downtown, preparing the Morgan Spring Community Garden for planting, and more. The seven new ambassadors began their tenures with the program by organizing a donation drive to benefit Second Chance Animal Shelter, in Shaftsbury. To that end, they will be collecting donations of cleaning supplies, canned dog and cat food, rawhide and nylabones, small pet beds, and fishing pole toys for cats until the end of December. Donation boxes will be available at MAUHS, Grace Christian, and the Petco on Northside Drive in Bennington. Donations can also be dropped of directly to Second Chance, which is located on Route 7A in Shaftsbury.

The students are also working together to make and deliver Christmas cards to residents at the Vermont Veterans Home.

As in the past, students from Mount Anthony Union High School and the Grace Christian School are represented, however, for the first time, students from the Sunrise Program were also included in the new ambassadors. The seven students are Lindsay Finney, Tara Hall, Ashley Kennison, Cody King, Sierra Palmatier, Sophia Prandini, and Cindy Stearns.

A photo of youth at the first ACT Youth Ambassador program meeting for 2015. *Not all pictured youth are members.
“The Youth Ambassador Program is designed to educate local high school students on health topics which may be of concern to them, as well as topics which affect the community as a whole,” said AmeriCorps VISTA Nevin Lessard, who is involved with the project, “These topics may range from tobacco use to stress management to healthy eating, and everything in between. Students will also be responsible of developing and implementing specific projects within their school or community which can have a positive impact on their lives and the lives of their fellow community members.”

The ACT Youth Ambassadors Program is dedicated to Judy Brownell, the former owner of Curves in Bennington who served on the ACT board for several years.