Originally published Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at 11:26a.m.

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Isabel Cristina Ortiz Salazar believes anyone suffering from abuse should have at least one person ‘they can trust just enough to tell them about the pain they are going through.’

Kascyanna Lowe is planning on using her life experience to help others overcome challenges and Paola Naselli Belmontes said the key to preventing abuse is helping local parents practice good parenting skills. She hopes Williams can create such programs.

Salazar, Lowe and Belmontes are the winners of scholarships presented by the Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth’s Williams Child Abuse Prevention Council. They were awarded their scholarships during the recent Williams High School academic awards and scholarship night.

Salazar received a $750 grand prize scholarship, with Lowe and Belmontes each receiving $500 scholarships.

“Communities like Williams offer an opportunity to prevent child abuse by reaching out to others,” said Salazar, who plans to attend Coconino Community College. “In small communities everyone knows each other. You go to the store and it is not difficult to run into your neighbor or teacher.”

In her scholarship application, Salazar said that one word, the right word, is all it takes to change lives. She said that in Williams, residents are lucky to have the police department, a clinic, a school on every corner and someone you can speak up to.

“We want children to have the life they deserve, full of happiness, joy and love,” she said.

“(Salazar) understands the importance and the foreseeable rewards for earning her grades and furthering her education,” said Sharon Potter, Williams High School art teacher. “She has high expectations for herself and has demonstrated the ability to make decisions based solely on her needs and ethics.”

In her scholarship application Lowe said she wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to do as an adult.

“I do, however, know how important it is to prevent any more children from going through the types of things I did,” she said.

Lowe said that despite the experiences she’s had, she wouldn’t be who she is now without those difficult experiences.

“It has taught me my strengths are my determination and humor,” she said. “I think these are my strengths because I never give up on anything I put my mind to and I try to approach life with a smile and a sense of humor.”

Lowe has served on the high school’s journalism yearbook and senior slide show committee and was the leader of a small group of students involved in planning and overseeing the school’s 2018 prom.

“Over the past three years, I have seen Kascyanna develop into a true leader,” said Megan Randol, the school’s World History/Drama/Journalism teacher. “She is a leader that does not concern herself with what her ‘title’ is, but rather leads by example. When her peers are around Kascyanna, they look to her as a model for how to behave and getting their work completed in a timely manner.”

Lowe has also earned praised from her employers at the Sheridan House Inn.

“Her work ethic, character, determination and ability to rise above any hardships will serve her so well, as she pursues her next life journey after school,” said Mark and Debbie Santi, owners/innkeepers.

Lowe is planning on attending Coconino Community College and then transferring to Northern Arizona University.

Belmontes, who plans to attend Northern Arizona University, said it’s important for local parents to develop the skills they need to help prevent child abuse.

“Parents can start practicing good parenting,” she stated in her scholarship application.

Belmontes said that prevention can happen through activities such as parent education, home visitation and parent support groups. She believes many families are able to find the support they need to stay together and care for their children in their homes and communities.

“We can start up home visiting and parent education,” she said. “Have a therapists available in town or expand emotional support groups. In the end, services that strengthen families and support parents should be encouraging to children’s development, health and safety and help prevent child neglect or any child abuse.”

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