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Candles Lit for Child Abuse

Someone told Jasmine Trisophon to drop dead last year, so that's what she did. She and more than 100 members of the Center for Youth Leadership at Brien McMahon High School lay prostrate in front of City Hall for about an hour to draw attention to child abuse .

Wednesday evening, Jasmine, a junior, and about 100 other McMahon students pulled another en mass stunt: They lined Washington Street for a candlelight vigil. There were no words spoken, just kids standing in a row from the corner of Main Street to midway down the block, almost to the parking lot. The attention-getter worked. Some passers-by honked, and people sitting in restaurants took notice. Several adults crossed the street to see what was going on and compliment the teens for their community action.

Bob Kocienda, director of the Center for Youth Leadership, said the 103 students were members of three connected groups: the CYL, the Senators' Community Foundatio n and the Peace Proj ect. They're no strangers to Sono. Twice a week small groups do street outreach. They hold signs and hand out slips of paper with the facts of child abuse. Sometimes a student wears an animal costume to draw attention to the link between animal abuse and child abuse. "It works," he said. They also do "tons of volunteer work," and other things to raise awareness.

Jessel Vitonera, a senior, said that last year she and other students used chalk to write slogans like "Stop Child Abuse" and "Don't Hit Kids" on the floor of the Norwalk Public Library. "People walk by, they look down and they realize." Jason Bruno, a freshman, said leaders of the club have gone to Hartford to try to get laws changed.

Manuela Higuita, a junior, said members volunteer at shelters for battered women and abused children. This weekend students will be "modeling" in Sono – posing as mannequins, with a price tag hanging off them to represent human trafficking. "Humans aren't for sale," she said.

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