Youth summit in Saipan shows empowerment can help solve adolescent problems

By Lori Lyn Lirio

Leaders in MHS take the lead in the underage drinking discussion. Photo © Lori Lyn Lirio

IN A bid to help young adults tackle teenaged problems, the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands Public School System organized a one-day summit at the Taga Hall of the World’s Resort in Saipan, it was learned yesterday.

Attended by 200 students from the CNMI’s PSS, the April 6 summit centers of common juvenile issues like underage drinking, self harm, smoking, sex education and bullying prevention.

Board of Education student representative Mariah Cruz said they provided five stations for every topic discussed by school leaders from Marianas High School, Dr. Rita Hocog Inos High School, Saipan Southern High School, Kagman High School and Tinian High School. The students were then required to visit each station to participate in the discussion.

She said they also had skits which reflected what the students have been going through and how they feel about certain issues.

According to Associate Commissioner for Student Support Services Yvonne Pangelinan, this was the first youth summit completely facilitated by student leaders.

“It is an amazing start to push forward so that youth become more active in engaging their peers. There are a lot of things that adult can do to intervene and to help with prevention but it is most effective when they hear it from somebody who had experience the way that they have,. I think it is very effective means of communicating with their peers and hold event like this where they are able to share their thoughts,” she said describing the topics discussed at the summit.

Leaders from Kagman High School lead the discussion on sex education. Photo © Lori Lyn Lirio

Moreover, Pangelinan said student-presenters showed themselves as experts because as they researched each topic and made an effort to make their fellow students understand, adding that, the topics presented were reflection of concerns among the students.

Associate Education Commissioner for Curriculum and Instruction Jackie A. Quitugua said she had been working with the student leaders since the planning stage in December.

“I shared with them the data on Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which gave them the idea of what issues that needed to be addressed.

Quitugua said she was impressed with the outcome of the student-led summit.

“Once we empower our children and trust them that they have the potential and believe that they can do it, then anything is possible. They have impressed us and touched our hearts and our mind to support them and serve them in anyway we can.”

One of the guest speakers Kagman High School teacher Gerard Van Gils encouraged the students “to step the curb and walk through impossible to reach your goal.”

Van Gils shared his experience during his brief stay in Vietnam before settling in on Saipan. He vividly remembered one experience where he was unable to reach his hotel room which was just across the street from where he was standing.

He described that the street was busy with hundreds of motorcycles, which hindered him to cross the street. He was scared to step up the curb and walk, the teacher admitted.

When he saw a local just walked through the passing motorcycles, he walked up and crossed the street.

“I just stepped up the curb, walked through impossible and reached my goal. I know where you are standing. I know where you want to go. I know that in between those two places is impossible. I know the place you want to be and the barrier and you think that the moment you step up, it will be chaos and confusion and danger. Step up the curb. Walk slow and steady and accomplished your goal,” was his encouragement.

In an interview, he said he hoped that sharing his experience would help them overcome their difficulties that they have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.