Richmond hosted children and youth summit
on June 7, 2010
The audience at the Youth-Senior Mentoring Project workshop quietly listened while 71-year-old, white haired volunteer Annie Stephens talked about her joyful experience as a senior working with youth. She described how enthusiastic young people were to meet seniors, and how they worked together on projects like making Christmas cookies or putting together a scrapbook.
“It’s great when we have generations coming together and learning from each other,” said Stephens. The attendees of the Youth-Senior Mentoring workshop had a special interest in what Stephens had to say; they wanted to hear new ideas to nurture their own work with the community.
This was only one of 25 workshops held during the 2010 Northern California Summit on Children and Youth, an event that took place last Thursday and Friday at the Richmond Auditorium. The conference brought together about 250 people who participated in different workshops focusing on education, health, community building, and innovative youth strategies.
This is the third year this conference has taken place, and the first time Richmond has hosted the event. The initiative to hold the conference in Richmond came from the Richmond Community Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to revitalize the Bay Area’s poorest and most violent neighborhoods. “From now on, we want to make this Northern California summit into an annual event in Richmond,” said Jim Becker, vice president of development and programs at the Richmond Community Foundation.
Becker says that the goals of the summit are to help people who work with children and youth get together, and to make sure that the areas of research, best practices and public policy are covered during the workshops and that the best speakers are provided.
This year the summit’s theme was “A New Decade of Hope,” which Becker said alludes to the fact that over the last decade there had been many funding cuts to children’s services and education, to the point that cuts for youth programs have become the norm in California. “We’re in a new decade and we have to think differently. We can’t allow this to continue to happen,” he said.
Attendees were mostly educators, members of nonprofit organizations, community leaders, elected officials, and representatives of businesses and area foundations. They came from cities throughout Northern California, but mostly were from the Bay Area.
“We learned about helping youth while telling them the truth,” said Chasetta Miller, a teacher at a Head Start preschool program in Berkeley, after attending a workshop called “Creating Economically Empowered Youth and Communities.”
Rhonda F. Harris, who is running for Richmond City Council this November, attended the workshops too. “When we come together with other organizations, we get ideas on how to guide our children and youth,” she said.
Many attendees found the summit valuable, like Fred Davis Jackson, youth services coordinator at the Neighborhood House of North Richmond, a non-profit organization that provides services for those in need. “Maybe you will get a rehearsal on some things you know but still you will see a new insight and in general you can only gain from just being here,” he said.
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