North High School Student Awarded Youth Human Rights Award!

Orlando Fuentes II, a senior at North High School, can seemingly do it all.  He is a leader on the football field, a talented saxophonist, a gifted student with a 3.0 GPA, and a talented wrestler. In his free time, he dedicates his energy to Al Éxito, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the Latinx community thrive throughout the state of Iowa.

“Orlando is an Al Éxito super star.  He is always is willing to lead a group, share ideas, and speak up for social justice.  He is our marketing department lead for the youth led business |drēm|sēd| where he collaborates with Spanish speaking businesses and served as an Al Éxito board of directors.  He has a kind heart, is a talented musician, and a great role model for all our youth!”  Dawn Martinez Oropeza, Al Éxito Executive Director

“I simply love Orlando,” Principal Graeber states, “from band to athletics to the classroom – he is an absolutely stellar Polar Bear.  Orlando is genuine in all of his human interactions and he makes the classroom a better place to be.”

Since 2019, Orlando has served as the Al Éxito Youth Mental Health Taskforce leader. He led a group of Latinx students, from across the state, in creating recommended policy and practice changes for the Iowa Department of Education and school districts to address issues facing Latinx youth in Iowa and has presented the information at the international Free Minds Free People conference in MN, met with Dr. Wise with the Iowa Department of Education, the school board, and recently at an UNI professional development day, Please Pass the Love Mental Health Conference, and ACES 360 Trauma Conference.

In March, Orlando was awarded the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Porter S. Dimery Sr. Youth Human Rights Award.   The Porter S. Dimery Sr. Youth Human Rights Award recognizes a young, inspirational leader who has demonstrated an unyielding commitment to protecting civil and human rights in the Des Moines area.

This individual:

  • educates, advocates, and/or raises awareness of community social justice issues
  • creates opportunities and access to services and resources for others
  • leads peaceful efforts to engage in civil discourse for community-oriented solutions
  • advocates for the access, development, and/or improvement of the legal and justice system, community development, education, healthcare, etc.
  • engages in efforts to ensure the protection of equality and opportunity for all

This award is dedicated to Porter S. Dimery Sr., who served on the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission from 1991-1998. Known as the “Gentle Giant”, this lifelong activist was committed to the future of the community, especially for the children and youth, and pushed for changes that would improve the quality of life for all residents of Des Moines.  In 2005, the Commission voted to honor his contributions for his ability to reach across the table and peacefully and civilly break down barriers for all.

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Orlando and Graeber

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