Photo By: Traci Newell/Town Crier
Students from Independence High School in San Jose, former alumni of Camp Everytown, sing Pink’s “Less Than Perfect” at the Silicon Valley FACES fundraiser last week.
Before Val Duran attended Camp Everytown, she was a shy and quiet teenager who harbored the dark secret of a drug-addicted father.
Camp Everytown, a four-day camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains for high school students, aims to replace prejudice with understanding and appreciation of differences. The camp experience, Duran said, changed her life.
While at camp, Duran shared the story of her father and realized that she wasn’t the only student suffering hardship. During an exercise in which students discussed slurs hurled at Latino students, Duran heard words she never wanted associated with her.
“I was in shock,” she said. “There it was, a label I never wanted – drugs – because of my father, the drug addict.”
At that moment, Duran said she decided to stand up for the rest of her family and share how strong her mother was to leave her father and raise four children on her own.
“A big weight was lifted – shame. I became brave,” she said. “Camp Everytown was a life-changing experience.”
Camp Everytown, offered locally to students from Los Altos High School, is under the umbrella of the nonprofit Silicon Valley FACES, which hosted its annual fundraising luncheon last week.
Silicon Valley FACES offers programs designed to build a community free of bias, bigotry and violence by transforming youth into community builders and empowering crime victims to thrive.
Last year Silicon Valley FACES served more than 10,000 people, including 2,500 youth and 7,800 victims of violent crimes.
In addition to Camp Everytown, Silicon Valley FACES sponsors Common Ground, an enrichment and leadership program for incoming high school freshmen; Building Connections, a program for K-5 students that focuses on inclusionary attitudes, conflict prevention and conflict resolution skills; Extremes of Hate: Genocide Students and Critical Thinking, a course aimed at high school students; and the Victim Witness Program, which provides services to victims of violent crimes in an effort to reduce trauma.
“Our goal for Silicon Valley is to see not a stereotype, but the heart of a human being,” said Executive Director Pat Mitchell.
For more information, visit www.svfaces.org.