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  • County-crafted memorial at Manzanita Park honors young girl

    Oct 22, 2021 | Read More News
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     Jazelle Armenta
    Visitors take in the Jazelle Armenta memorial at Winston Reynolds-Manzanita Park on
    Tucson's south side.
    Jazelle Armenta loved otters, seashells and spaghetti. She also loved being a member of the cheer squad for the Tucson Redskins youth football team. 

    All of these loves are visible on the colorful new memorial that was unveiled earlier this week at Winston Reynolds-Manzanita Park to honor Jazelle, who died in a car accident on Sept. 18, 2019.

    The memorial’s centerpiece is a portrait of Jazelle in her cheer uniform. She was 7 and on her way to cheer practice at the time of the crash. 

    “This has truly been such a community effort,” District 5 Pima County Supervisor Adelita S. Grijalva said at a dedication ceremony on Monday, Oct. 18. “I want to thank you for your perseverance and your patience.” 

    The memorial’s murals are the work of Pima County’s Las Artes Arts & Education Center, which helps youths between the ages of 17 and 22 get the training they need to enter the workforce. Students in the program work on community art projects. Murals created through the Las Artes program can be seen across Pima County. 

    The portraits of Jazelle and her family were created by Las Artes artist Saul Ortega, while the pictures of Jazelle’s favorite foods, animals and other cherished things were the work of seven students at Las Artes. 

    “I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to work on a project like this,” Ortega said. 

    Las Artes program manager Patricia Gastélum said work on the murals that form the memorial began in February, but the origins of the project date back to November 2019. She said late Pima County Supervisor Richard Elías was a driving force behind the project. 

    Nahrin Jabro of the Office of Emergency Eviction Legal Services said at the dedication ceremony that Elías was determined to make the memorial a reality. 

    “I believe that Jazelle and Richard are here with us today,” she said. “They’re always in our hearts.” 

    Henrietta Armenta, Jazelle’s mother, said the memory of her daughter’s loss remains just as vivid two years later. 

    “It still feels like just yesterday,” she said. “Jazelle was a very happy, loving, giving person.” 

    Jazelle’s name will live on at the park where she spent so many happy days. One of the two baseball fields at Manzanita Park was named for her in 2019 and a bench in her honor stands behind the field. 

    Mike Carpenter, president of the Tucson Redskins, was visibly emotional as he spoke of the impact that Jazelle had on those around her. 

    “When we’re all gone, this legacy of hers will continue to be here, for others,” he said, pointing to the memorial. 

    “Jazelle is responsible for bringing out the best in all of us,” said Tony Diaz, vice president of the Tucson Redskins. “Her big smile will always warm our hearts and inspire good.”