Substance at the summit
Students learn valuable life lessons at Central California Youth Summit
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.”
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.”
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.