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Teen Summit addresses concerns facing youth
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From left, Alexa Saavedra, Itzel Espinoza, and Janice Monares took part in the Martial Arts-Be Safe and Alert session conducted by Robin Taberna at Tuesdays annual Teen Summit held at Golden West School. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

The eighth annual Teen Summit hosted Tuesday by Give Every Child A Chance focused on some of the issues that affect today’s youth.

Included were bullying and being fit, according to program director Chuck Crutchfield.

Griselle Rodriguez, who is a writer from New York City – she studied non-fiction screen writing at the University of Southern California – served as the guest speaker at the one-day event sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and held at Golden West School.

She delivered her “Teen Truth Live: Bullying and School Violence” message to the seventh- through 12th- grade students from 23 schools in the Manteca Unified School District.

Crutchfield added that Rodriguez has worked in acting and producing for Comedy Central, MTV, A&E, and Showtime.

“We were fortunate to get her for the Teen Summit,” he said.

Rodriguez talked about living through the divorce of her parents, and getting constantly bullied because of her race and physical disabilities.

Students, who had the week off from school, also learned firsthand about physical disabilities thanks in part to A Touch of Understanding. This a non-profit organization that helps educate young people about understanding the challenges associated with disabled folks.

Youngsters, for example, had a chance to experience using a manual wheelchair. They quickly discovered how much of a chore it was to maneuver this device.

“When you see someone and they come up that door – in particular, if they’re manual wheel chair – it absolutely makes their day (when you take the time to open the door for them),” said Byron Chapman of A Touch of Understanding.

He, too, is confined to a wheelchair and initially didn’t appreciate the gesture at first because it made him feel like damaged goods. Chapman later had a change of heart.

Itzel Espinoza learned a little bit about defending herself if attacked by bullies. Robin Taberna, who is president of the Golden State Karate Association – he also offers free Tae Kwon Do lessons at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manteca / Lathrop– provided the Martial Arts: Be Safe & Alert session.

Taberna was helped out by two of his students, Jordan Fontanilla and Chris Isabell, in his demonstrations.

“We learned about using our elbows (if ever attacked),” said Espinoza, who is an eighth-grade student at August Knodt School in Weston Ranch.

Other sessions included Cook like an Olympic Champion; A Soldiers Life; Cyber Bullying; Ultimate Shopper; A Career in Law Enforcement; Keeping it Crafty; and Zumba.

GECAC is hoping to organize a similar one-day event in Ripon in the spring.