Colors of Success Inc., a  college readiness program for junior high and high school students, is now including Weber State University into its program. Students in the program now have the chance to leave school and attend events on WSU’s campus.

The Colors program has been helping children since 1989. The organization reaches out to over 100,000 children, youth and family each year.

The program started at an ethnically diverse high school in Salt Lake City. The high school faced the challenges of gangs, poverty and a high dropout rate according to the Colors of Success website. Since then the program has expanded into Ogden City. There are eight schools in the Ogden School District and 12 schools in Salt Lake that have the program.

Girls from the program were invited to come up to WSU and participate in February’s Love Your Body Seminar that was put on by the Women’s Center.

“I had a wonderful time at the Love Your Body day,” said 13-year-old Jasmine Reyes. “I learned that we need to be confident in our own bodies.”

Several young women from Highland Junior High were invited up to come and learn how to love their bodies from the inside out.

“I learned that we have to love ourselves before anyone else can love us,” said 13-year-old Brianna Galvan. “We have to learn to love our body and how it is.”

Julie Escobar is running her first year of the Colors of Success program at Highland Junior High. She works with male and female seventh and eighth grade students.

“The Love Your Body Seminar was the first event we have attended,” Escobar said. “The girls loved it, so I am working on taking them to more seminars and also create group sessions at the school.”

Escobar works closely with the school’s teachers and staff to check up on the students and monitor their progress.

“I meet with students constantly to check grades, behavior and run group sessions,” Escobar said. “The biggest changes I see are in their behavior. Last year students were constantly suspended, and this year I haven’t seen any of them get suspended.”

Staff members Evelyn Huerta and Daaron Jensen stay after school and help mentor and tutor the children.

“They help me keep my grades up and turn in my missing assignments,” said 13-year-old Johontan Castro.

Students are taught effective ways to communicate with teachers, staff and students.

“Last year I got in a lot of fights; I was suspended and I missed a lot of school,” said 15-year-old Abraham Gonzalez. “Now this year my grades have gone up, and I don’t get in any fights. They have changed the way I am.”

Escobar said she hopes for more opportunities to bring the children up to visit the campus and for them to see what a positive experience college can be. She said she loves what she does and said it doesn’t feel like work to her because she gets to know the children on a personal level.

“I am lucky to have the support of my principals in taking the students to these types of activities,” Escobar said. “Without them, it wouldn’t work.”

To learn how to help or donate time to the Colors program, visit http://www.colorsofsuccess.com/ or contact (801) 596-9081.

“The most rewarding experience is seeing their improvement in grades and attitude,” Escobar said. “They have now taken an interest not only in graduating high school but in graduating college as well.”

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