Antoinette Martinez-Urioste had wanted to pursue community leadership for years. Unfortunately for her, she never knew where to start, or exactly what she wanted to do to impact the community. The …
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Jefferson County residents can apply for the program at JeffcoFLTI.com and can receive more information by calling 303 271 6635. The deadline to apply for the program is Nov. 2.
Antoinette Martinez-Urioste had wanted to pursue community leadership for years. Unfortunately for her, she never knew where to start, or exactly what she wanted to do to impact the community. The Lakewood resident also felt like she had a lack of a support system, until she joined the Jefferson County Family Leadership Training Institute (FLTI).
The program is coordinated by Colorado State University Extension, and it gives Jefferson County adults and teens a free opportunity to develop into civic leaders. It lasts for 20 weeks, and participants learn how to utilize information and resources, how to engage with regional, state and federal elected officials, public speaking skills and other lessons. Those lessons are valuable, but part of the program requires participants to develop a community project that is meaningful for them.
For Martinez-Urioste, she chose to create a program called Positively Accessible, because she believes that children don’t have enough positive messages in things like music, the internet and movies. She is currently working on a booklet that gives children resources to help them improve their self-esteem, decision making and other aspects that deal with emotional aspects of life. The program is an outreach effort to bring positive messages into schools. Martinez-Urioste is working on a proposal for the presentation, and she may roll it out on the next annual student-led Day Without Hate event in April. Day Without Hate is a student led organization that aims to stop violence and bullying within schools.
“I’ve learned how to focus on the important things of a project and a goal, rather than keeping it broad. Now I’m able to get out there and know exactly what I’m focused on,” Martinez-Urioste said.
Adults and teens enrolled in the program meet once a week at the same time and location, in seperate classes that run at the same time. The classes are parrel to each other, but the teenage class is more age appropiate and involves more hands on activities. Spanish interpreters are available at each class, and dinner and childcare services are free each week.
Participants get to hear from guest speakers like local officials, and they get to spend a day at the Capitol where they get to know state legislators. Jacki Paone, the director of Jefferson County CSU Extension, said that less than half of the recent FLTI participants knew who their local representatives were before taking the program.
“That’s important. You make a difference by talking to people who have the power and ability to build policy and make policy,” Paone said.
Martinez-Urioste’s daughter Bianca Urioste participated in the program, and she is working on creating a new process of conflict resolution within schools. Urioste said the program has done nothing, but good things for her.
“I get a more positive vibe in my life by being around positive people (at FLTI), and it’s smothered me in good messages,” Urioste said.
“This program helps you grow as a person. I have seen it push people out of their comfort zones in a positive, supporting way,” Martinez-Urioste said. “I have seen this program change lives, and it can eventually change the community.”
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