The 2019 Youth for Youth Conference at the Pacific Islands Club’s Charley’s Cabaret last Saturday drew the participation of about 60 youths and collaborations with partnering agencies.
The conference, which focused on youth mental health, suicide prevention, substance abuse, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer alliances for the youth, grew out of a youth conference in Guam that was attended by some Talaabwogh StaR Association members.
“A handful of our TstaRs members attended a youth conference in Guam and were inspired to share what they learned with their peers,” said Rep. Sheila Babauta (Ind-Saipan). “The 2019 Youth for Youth Conference was a huge success. …I’m so proud of the association for organizing this event and, most especially, our youth for spending their Saturday with us.”
The whole-day conference lasted from 8am to 4pm.
“For this year, we let the youth lead the conference with ideas on event structure and activities,” Babauta said.
The conference’s keynote speaker was Josh “ZengZung” Castro, who talked about his life story, his goals, and advice to the participants.
The conference’s partnering agencies were the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Program, the Commonwealth Health Care Corp.’s Systems of Care, and Behavioral Health Services.
The participants were introduced to the roundtable learning structure, which allows each participant to add an answer to a certain question or topic with a piece of paper being passed around.
“The roundtable learning structure gave the participants an opportunity to have meaningful conversations about sensitive topics with professionals in our community,” Babauta said. Participants had to opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the resources available to them.
“It was important that they feel comfortable opening up and having these discussions with their peers,” Babauta said.
Pride Marianas’ Jennifer Furey Maratita introduced the participants to the idea of being an ally to the LGBTQ youth community. Babauta that the participants were given resources on helpful and hurtful tips and were informed of future Pride Marianas youth events such as the “Ally Week,” which is occurring in the last week of September.
The Talaabwogh StaR Association, founded by Ignacia and Manny Evangelista, is a faith-based non-profit organization committed to promoting healthy alternative activities for the youth Tanapag. Its mission is to combat the prevalence of substance abuse in the village of Tanapag by providing a variety of opportunities to encourage participation in community service. They are currently headed by association president Malcolm Omar; board member Marira Rios Arriola was the youth conference coordinator.