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SANTA ANA : Painting Wins Teen Trip to Washington

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For Miguel Villareal, 16, a picture is worth 2,700 miles.

That’s the distance between here and Washington, where he was flown last week to receive an award for his painting encouraging people to fight pollution and clean the air.

Miguel, a junior at Valley High School, is one of a dozen students nationwide to win first place in a competition sponsored by the Washington-based Caring Institute.

The nonprofit group sponsored the “Art of Caring” contest as part of its program to support and encourage community and public service, said spokeswoman Kathleen Brown.

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More than 20,000 youngsters entered the contest, and Miguel was one of 12 first-place winners.

“I can’t describe it. It feels pretty good” to win, Miguel said before leaving on his trip.

He was especially excited to visit the nation’s capital because “it’s going to be a new experience, and I’ve never been traveling before.”

On Friday, Miguel attended an awards ceremony at the Frederick Douglass Museum and Hall of Fame for Caring Americans on Capitol Hill.

His poster now hangs in the museum along with those of the other contest winners.

Miguel’s poster depicts a soot- and smog-covered city, with a hand wiping a sponge across the image to reveal bright, clean skyscrapers and deep-blue sky underneath.

Accompanying the image are the words “Don’t you wish you could do this to your city?”

In addition to the trip to Washington, Miguel also received a $100 savings bond.

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