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Summit provides teens with chance to learn about health & job hunt
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Hector Alcaraz sat patiently in a Golden West classroom until it was his turn to learn a few martial arts tactics that could help him if he’s ever attacked.

Watching patiently and attentively, Alcaraz – a seventh-grade student at Stella Brockman – opted to take a day out of his spring break to participate in the 2011 Better Engaged Students Thrive Teen Summit with hundreds of students from throughout Manteca Unified, soaking in as much knowledge he could from the three sessions he attended throughout the day.

And while it was a good portion of a day he wouldn’t get to play with his friends, Alcaraz said he was happy to get the chance to do some of the things he was doing at the summit.

“I think it’s a cool idea to have all of these things here,” Alcaraz said. “I’m learning about martial arts, careers in sports, and what other careers there are out there, and it’s cool to do that with my friends and other people that I get to meet.”

But it wasn’t the first time that Manteca Unified students were treated to a teen summit aimed at educating them on various topics that they will likely encounter in the coming years.

From 2004 through 2007, the non-profit tutoring agency held the event but had to sideline it due to budget constraints.

This year, Kaiser Permanente stepped in and offered to sponsor the event with GECAC, and brought the “Nightmare on Puberty Street” educational theatre program to help shed light on the sensitive issues that young adolescents face.

“We’re glad to be a part of this because it serves the youth of our community and promotes health awareness and education,” said Kaiser Permanente Government Communications and Political Manager Andrew Mendoza. “This was a program that Give Every Child a Chance was able to do in the past but couldn’t continue because of funding issues. We were happy to step in and assist because it’s events like this that are in line with our mission.  

“We’re connected to the local communities we serve, and events like this help us stay connected.”

Breakout session topics included physical activities such as high-energy Zumba and Yoga, multimedia and graphic design, how to succeed in today’s job market, eating healthy and the dangers of abusing over-the-counter and illicit drugs.

According to GECAC Program Director Chuck Crutchfield, the event is especially important for teens and young adults because it addresses issues that they’re likely to face as they grow older.

“This helps educate them on important things that they’re likely facing or will be soon,” Crutchfield said. “We’re fortunate that we were able to partner with Kaiser this year to bring this back. We have students here from 21 schools, and we’ve got a great turnout.

“Hopefully this is something we can continue in the future.”