Youth Changemaker: Janet Salcedo

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Why I think it is important for Kansas government officials to operate in the light of day, rather than in secret, behind closed doors: 

“Janet Salcedo’s work covers a wide range of issues, but a single word works to describe her spirit: determined.”


- The Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council

Janet, 18, has been active in community service and policy change efforts in her home state of California since she was in middle school. She is particularly interested in healthy communities.

Her  most recent projects have focused on encouraging the Fresno, Calif., community to live more healthily by taking a few easy and affordable steps. For example, at her church, Janet has led an effort to build a community garden to give parishioners and local residents access to fresh, healthy food. In addition, she is active in the Every Neighborhood Matters project in Fresno, which helps community members make their neighborhoods healthier.

Janet is the youngest (and only youth) member of the the Regional Transportation Committee of the Council of Governments in Fresno. As a committee member, she provides a youth perspective on local transportation issues, especially in rural areas, where she lives and where roads aren't fully developed.

For the past year, she has served on the California Youth Council (CYC) and the statewide Friday Night Live Youth Steering Committee. The CYC is made up of young people who are committed to raising awareness about youth issues. They create links among local youth councils and other community programs and state-wide initiatives around substance abuse, traffic safety and violence issues.

The CYC also plans and implements a Youth Traffic Safety Summit, a training camp where young people across California come together to generate solutions to youth traffic safety issues. As a part of the CYC's healthy living efforts, Janet and her fellow CYC members recently filmed a video about underage drinking and impaired driving in the state of California.

Check out this video:

Outside of the CYC, Janet is a Youth Leadership Institute Youth Leadership Advisory Board Member, a youth council committed to bringing about community change through youth engagement and advocacy work. In 2011, she was named the Youth Advocate of the Year by the Youth Leadership Institute. Her local work was showcased on a Valley PBS show called Kids Count.

Fueled by her experience on the CYC, Janet is now starting a youth council at Fresno Pacific University, where she is a sophomore. She hopes the Council will get more college students invested in the community that surrounds the university. Fresno Pacific University is located in the relatively impoverished area of Southeast Fresno.

"The students who attend Fresno Pacific University know well the problems and issues around our community, but we need people to take action," she says.

This summer, Janet is taking action herself by collaborating with the United Faith Christian Fellowship Church on a project to reduce teen access to alcohol in Southeast Fresno. She and her fellow youth members are asking local store owners to reduce the amount of advertisements in their stores that promote alcohol use. They are also asking owners to place alcoholic products away from drinks popular with youth.

They also plan to talk to local elected officials about reducing liquor outlets around the community and limiting advertising around the local schools. "A nearby high school is surrounded by 31 liquor outlets with in a one mile radius of the school," says Janet. "We need some changes that will affect the lives of many young people."

"Janet is looked to as a leader among her peers and always accomplishes any task or projects she volunteers in. She is tenacious and has an unyielding drive to accomplish her goals while doing her part to help others in the community," says Yamilette Rodriguez,  Director of Central Valley Programs with the Youth Leadership Institute.

Janet says, "I believe it is important to have our youth voice heard at all levels of government because as young people many of the decision that will affect us the most are being made without youth input. Therefore, I strongly believe it is important to have a Presidential Youth Council to help inform our elected officials about the issues that are affecting us and delaying us from living a healthy successful life."

She added that when she first read the email learning that she was selected as a 24 Under 24 Changemaker, she couldn't believe it. "I started screaming and crying of joy. When I called Yammilette Rodriguez, who had nominated me, I started to believe it. I am beyond blessed and extremely happy to be part of this movement for positive change and youth voice."

This profile is one of the Top 24 Under 24 Youth Changemakers, a series hosted by SparkAction and the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council to recognize young changemakers influencing policy and practice at the local, state and national levels.

The members of the youth-led Campaign chose the 24 youth who are featured in this series, from entries submitted by peers and mentors. Read about the selection process.

We’re always looking for more profiles of young people making a difference, so submit one of your own!