Students learn to be leaders through CHOICES

CHOICES Leadership Training Conference informs students on the dangers of vaping, tobacco, alcohol and drugs and how to engage classmates in inclusive, caring campus cultures

TULARE COUNTY – The first step to becoming a leader is to make informed choices and local students made the CHOICES Leadership Training conference in Visalia last month.

On Nov. 18, students from 23 Tulare County schools attended the annual conference and, after a full day of hands-on activities and learning, advisors said their students left feeling inspired, empowered, and ready to take action.

“This conference was very beneficial for myself and my students,” advisor Fernando Gonzalez of Burton Middle School in Porterville said. “By coming to this conference, the students felt confident in creating new activities for the students at Burton Middle School. One of the key things our leaders kept on mentioning was, ‘We have to plan for all the students, not just us.’ When I heard that on the way home, I knew that this conference opened the doors for new and well-thought-out ideas.”

The conference was entitled, “Counting On You To Make A Difference.” Along with lessons on leadership, students learned about the dangers of vaping, tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, and how to create engaging events at school to help build inclusive, caring campus cultures.

Advisor Heather Silva of Alpine Vista School in Tulare said her students had many takeaways from the event. They learned that substance abuse awareness can be done easily; to know your “why,” audience, and purpose; and that leadership equals service.

Attendees of the conference also heard a presentation from members of the Tulare County Youth Council—high school students from throughout Tulare County—about ways they can live above the influence of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

“I was impressed with how well organized the entire event was,” advisor Jodi Hodge of Cherry Avenue Middle School in Tulare said. “All the presenters were engaging and knowledgeable. The student leaders did a phenomenal job. My students told me that they felt inspired and couldn’t wait to go back (to school) and plan an event!”

Thursday’s annual CHOICES Leadership Training conference was sponsored by the state’s Friday Night Live (FNL) and Tobacco-Use Prevention Education (TUPE) programs.

TCOE’s CHOICES Program offers the Leadership Training conference annually to help young people develop as positive leaders at school and in their communities. For more information about leadership development programs, contact CHOICES at 559-651-0155.

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