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High School Seniors Across The Nation And New York Honored By ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union today announced the winners of its Youth Activist Scholarship for 2005. Ten high school seniors from around the country were selected to receive $4,000 each to honor their outstanding work to protect civil liberties, especially the rights of young people.

The Scholarship was created in 2000 to recognize the efforts of graduating seniors who have demonstrated a strong commitment to civil liberties and civil rights through some form of student activism.

“In a time when our core freedoms and values are being undermined every day, it is vital that the next generation of civil libertarians stands up for their rights,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “The ACLU Youth Activist Scholarship is an opportunity to recognize the bravery of these students and their role as the true defenders of democracy.”

Among this year’s winners is Cristhian Ponce Barranco, a senior at The Beacon School in New York, New York. Cristhian has been a leader in the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Teen Health Initiative, a peer education and outreach program that promotes minors’ rights to access health care. He presents workshops and peer trainings to inform youth in his own immigrant community about reproductive rights. Cristhian has managed to balance his peer education responsibilities, his academic workload and his duties as captain of his cross-country track team despite major personal obstacles: due to family circumstances beyond his control, Cristhian has been financially self-supporting and living on his own since last year.

“I am proof that there is no obstacle that should prevent anyone from at the least obtaining knowledge of their rights,” said Cristhian. “I am fortunate that I know what my rights are, but not everyone is that lucky. I will always work to defend the rights of immigrants.”

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