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The second annual Invest In Me Empowerment Conference was held at the Hammon Senior Center last Saturday. The conference, brainchild of Patterson native Erica Ayala, was attended by about 35 high school students, and was geared toward encouraging young people to have confidence in themselves to build their own futures, and to see themselves as leaders. Invest In Me, a nonprofit organization, has been working with several high school students on the conference since October. The young women have been attending planning meetings, and were responsible for developing the topics for the day. Those topics included youth civic engagement: speaking truth to power, led by Sergio Cuellar, Community Engagement Coordinator for the Center for Regional Change at UC Davis. READ MORE
When 1,000 San Joaquin Valley (SJV) residents rolled up to the capitol on 20 chartered busses to call for social and health equity in the region last Thursday, politicians took notice. The day, called Equity on the Mall, highlighted the inspiring work of community advocates and leaders across the San Joaquin Valley. It also served as the public launch of the CRC's latest report, The San Joaquin Valley: A Region and its Children Under Stress. The report, commissioned by the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund, with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Sierra Health Foundation, highlighted these sobering facts:
Economy and environment: One in three children in the region live in poverty, and in some counties, nearly half of all children live in neighborhoods with high poverty rates; tap water is unsafe to drink for students in one in four schools; and more than one in four children don't have regular access to nutritious foods.
Youth opportunity: San Joaquin Valley children ages 10-17 face a greater risk of ending up in jail, with the felony juvenile arrest rate higher in every SJV county than the statewide average. There are also significant disparities in educational opportunities and performance between the diverse racial and ethnic populations in the Valley.
Fortunately, the seriousness of these challenges is being met with dedicated grassroots and policy advocacy across the region and leadership from grantees of the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund, among others. In a call to action, Chet P. Hewitt, President and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation stated, "The children of the Valley deserve better, and we hope this report will simultaneously spark dialogue and action capable of transforming the challenges into a new, more hopeful reality." We agree, and are honored to partner with the foundation and scores of community leaders as they build a healthy and equitable San Joaquin Valley.
Recent Media: To read the Stockton Record article on this report click here.