Youth Voice Conference brings students together
A modest crowd of Porterville’s youth kicked off their spring break Friday by attending the fifth annual Youth Voice Conference, an event intended to provide a platform for discussion as well as a bit of inspiration.
The free event, organized by the Porterville Youth Commission, took place at the Santa Fe Elementary School gym. The PYC is made up of student body presidents or a designated representative from the student council of each local high school. It was created in 2008 as a means to inform local youth of community happenings, to provide an outlet for their ideas, interests, and concerns and to encourage their involvement in civic affairs.
Students from several high schools attended the event and were treated to pizza, drinks and other snacks.
The afternoon’s activities began with a presentation by Justin Levine, a columnist for the Visalia Times-Delta and the owner of California Fitness Academy in Visalia.
“The first step is always the hardest, but once you get there, you will be motivated to keep going,” Levine told the small crowd.
Porterville Parks and Leisure Services Department Director Donnie Moore said he thought the youth enjoyed Levine’s message.
“He’s one of those guys that gets the most out of every minute of every day. If people could be just half that motivated and focused, from eating right to getting exercise, to staying positive...he encompasses all of that,” Moore said.
Levine, who said he regularly speaks to youth throughout Tulare County, titled his nearly hour-long presentation “Making the Most of Each Day.”
“It’s a passion of mine. I see a need for it and I just enjoy doing it because they listen,” he said.
Monica Perez, a senior at Burton Pathways and a member of the PYC, said she enjoyed Levine’s presentation.
“I liked how he talked about being inspired because it’s true; we’re not as active any more and I’m going to try to change that,” Perez said.
Fatima Bayami, a student at Summit Charter Collegiate Academy who volunteered to attend the event as part of her leadership class, said she found Levine’s talk inspirational.
“It was inspiring because he ran 300 miles,” she said in regard to an anecdote told by Levine about how he ran the 300-mile stretch from Visalia to Santa Monica in a matter of 100 hours.
Other speakers included Porterville Community Development Director Brad Dunlap, whose presentation was titled “What Does It Take?” and a presentation by the Porterville Police Department on drunken driving and gang awareness.
Moore, who helped organize the event, said that while the turnout was not what was expected, he’s certain the students who were in attendance were going to take away valuable information.
“Sometimes you have to look at the quality over the quantity,” he said.