San Leandro youth summit offers support to at-risk teens

- A youth summit in San Leandro was held Saturday afternoon aimed at making positive changes in the lives of East Bay teenagers.

Daniel Mora served as the guest speaker who shared his story with teenagers. The Oakland native said his story is one that began with a rough childhood and overcoming obstacles as a teen.

“What I went through, a lot of [teenagers] are still going through,” Mora said.

Mora said the purpose of his speech is to empower youth on making a transition into a better life.

The youth summit was held at the REACH Ashland Youth Center in San Leandro. It was made possible by a $500,000 state grant called the California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention Program.

“Young people get the chance to get networked with adults and organizations that are able to support them in their demise and success,” Vanessa Rodriguez, with REACH Ashland Youth Center, said.

More than 100 kids attended the vent, ranging from at-risk youth in juvenile hall to some that are headed off to college.

Khalil Robertson, 18, will be a freshman at Chabot College in Hayward next year.

“It really shows us that somebody actually cares about us,” Robertson said. “REACH played a big part in my turn around because honestly without REACH I don’t know what I’d be doing on a day to day basis.”

San Leandro Police were on hand too, trying to build relationships with teenagers that they know isn’t always easy.

“We want them to see police, not only in uniform because we’re all in this together, but we wanted them to see the officers as who they are when they’re not at work,” Lt. Robert McManus with the San Leandro Police Department said.

Mora’s final message to teenagers was one of encouragement.

“Find someone to motivate you and keep at it,” he said. “You don’t have to know all the answers, but as long as you know a little bit and want to change, there’s people out here who want to help you.”

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