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The COVID-19 pandemic has cut short in-person graduation celebrations for high schoolers all around the country. But one local nonprofit that helps at-risk youth is still trying to do something special for students who are moving on.

The Healthy Teens Coalition of Manatee County is planning two drive-by celebrations to honor 12 graduating seniors who have volunteered as health educators with the organization and 14 others who are part of the program.

The coalition's Teen Health Educator program trains students how to educate peers and adults about the risks of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse and more. Since the coalition launched the program in 2014, it has reached 7,000 students in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The drive-by party, which will follow social distancing guidelines, will take place on Tuesday, May 26, and Wednesday, May 27. Participants will drive together to the homes of the Teen Health Educators to recognize their work.

"Especially during these difficult times, we think it’s important to recognize the accomplishments and positive impact these youth leaders have made on our community," said Evelyn Almodovar, the coalition's program director, according to a press release.

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