Substance at the sum­mit

Stu­dents learn valu­able life les­sons at Cen­tral Cal­i­for­nia Youth Sum­mit

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - BY JUAN AVILA jlopez@porter­villere­corder.com

Sev­enth-grade stu­dents from the Porter­ville area gath­ered once again Tues­day on the sprawl­ing Port Naz cam­pus to at­tend the Cen­tral Cal­i­for­nia Youth Sum­mit to learn about sui­cide pre­ven­tion, pos­i­tive so­cial me­dia in­ter­ac­tions, pre­ven­tion of us­ing to­bacco prod­ucts and team build­ing.

About 1,100 mid­dle school stu­dents from the Bur­ton School District (BSD), Porter­ville Uni­fied School District (PUSD) and Pleas­ant View School District (PVSD) took over the church’s main sanc­tu­ary room to lis­ten to Mar­ion Re­neau. Re­neau is cur­rently ranked No. 7 in the UFC Women’s Ban­tamweight di­vi­sion, and as a guest speaker she talked to the youth about mak­ing the right life de­ci­sions in or­der to ac­com­plish their dreams.

“It’s was fun lis­ten­ing to the UFC fighter,” said Kailani San­tos, sev­enth grade student. “I also liked what she said. She is in­spir­ing.”

Re­neau talked about her own ex­pe­ri­ences grow­ing up in Porter­ville and the hard­ships she faced, but set an ex­am­ple to let the kids know to keep on push­ing for their dreams while mak­ing the right choices.

“We de­cided last year to try it as a school day for our sev­enth graders be­cause that was al­ways our tar­get pop­u­la­tion,”

said Karen Vanni, mem­ber of the board of di­rec­tors for Fam­ily Cri­sis Cen­ter (FCC) and teacher at PUSD. “Mid­dle school is dif­fi­cult, and there are a lot of de­ci­sions these kids are faced with, lots of peer pres­sure, so­cial me­dia is­sues, lots of school is­sues, ex­tracur­ric­u­lar. So the whole point of the sum­mit is to help the stu­dents make bet­ter choices about lots of things.”

Sev­enth-grade stu­dents

from Pi­o­neer Mid­dle School, Bartlett Mid­dle School, Se­quoia Mid­dle School, Porter­ville Mil­i­tary Academy (PMA), Bur­ton Mid­dle School, Sum­mit Char­ter In­ter­me­di­ate Academy and Pleas­ant View West School were all bro­ken into ses­sions fo­cus­ing on the four top­ics dis­cussed.

“The top­ics that are be­ing talked about to­day are just some of the top­ics they have to make de­ci­sions about and just things that they are faced with,” said Vanni be­fore she listed the four main top­ics of the sum­mit: sui­cide

pre­ven­tion, so­cial me­dia, to­bacco pre­ven­tion and team build­ing. “I think it's an amaz­ing event, and we are re­ally look­ing to make a dif­fer­ence in our young peo­ple within our com­mu­nity, and we re­ally feel like this is a good way to do it.”

Some of the PMA cadets took care of the team build­ing ac­tiv­ity ses­sion by in­struct­ing the stu­dents to play the Hu­man Knot.

“This is fun an in­ter­est­ing,” said Je­sus Sanchez, sev­enth-grade student, who then added he has been learn­ing and get­ting lots of in­for­ma­tion. “I liked the Hu­man Knot we did as a group. It was fun.”

After the four 30 minute ses­sions the mid­dle school stu­dents re­united one more time at the main sanc­tu­ary for a short pro­gram on healthy net­works pre­sented by FCC.

The Sum­mit has been go­ing on for six years, but this is the se­cond year they have done it as a school event. The first four years the sum­mit was held on Satur­days and the whole com­mu­nity was in­vited. “When it orig­i­nally started it was [put on] by FCC, and when it grew it be­came more about how we can help our kids in the com­mu­nity, how can we tar­get our young kids,” said Vanni.

Port Naz and the school dis­tricts have helped a lot by pro­vid­ing trans­porta­tion and lunches for stu­dents.

“It's a joint ef­fort at this point. FCC ser­vices the after-ef­fects. After some­thing hap­pens and they need as­sis­tance from us we are there to help, but we wish that less peo­ple used us by pre­vent­ing emo­tional cri­sis,” said Vanni. “This is part of what we do to try to pre­vent sit­u­a­tions that harm in­di­vid­u­als. This is a win­win for our com­mu­nity and the cen­ter.”

RECORDER PHOTOS BY CHIEKO HARA

Sev­enth graders from six lo­cal schools work to­gether in team build­ing ex­er­cises Tues­day, Nov. 6 at the Cen­tral Cal­i­for­nia Youth Sum­mit Con­fer­ence at Porter­ville Church of the Nazarene in Porter­ville.

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