Gang, violence

April 14, 2002

suppression is

the main focus

at conference


Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Gang and violence suppression was the focus of Saturday's Youth Leadership Conference at the San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus.

"Gang violence is something that can be dealt with," said Jose Valle, who helped coordinate the event. Valle is a teen counselor at the Clinicas De Salud Del Pueblo.


"We want to teach them about gang violence and how to get out of it," said Valle.

The conference started at 8 a.m. and ended about 2:30 p.m. Gang violence was one of 10 topics addressed in workshops.

The other topics were dating boundaries and sexual harassment, HIV/sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol and drugs, tobacco effects, eating disorders, education and money for college, job preparation and self-esteem and leadership skills.

"A lot of these topics aren't addressed in the school. We also want to give the students a different angle to these topics," said Valle. "The presenters have a different way of talking. We work at being youth-oriented and talk to them at an equal level."

Valle said about 150 students from high schools in the Imperial Valley and Mexicali attended the conference. That number was about 200 students short of the attendance at last year's conference.

He added the dramatic drop-off in numbers came because of changes at some Mexicali schools.

Still, those students who attended said they got a lot out of the conference.

Juan Haro, 16, a student at Brawley Union High School said, "It (the conference) teaches about gang violence, STDs and much more.

"It's a great source to get more information for the future," he said.

Becky Alaniz, 15, a student at Holtville High School, said, "It's pretty neat to see everyone concerned with teen pregnancy and college money.

"Sometimes it seems like nobody gives us direction and this helps guide us in the right path," she said.

Janina Hernandez, 15, a student at the Calexico community school, said, "The experience here is good for people who don't know about drugs and sex. It helps you learn a lot of things you don't know."

David Barrozo, 16, a student at Del Rio Community School in Brawley, said, "It helps us to visualize the future and make better decisions."

>>Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

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