The Rio Grande Valley Empowerment Zone in collaboration with McAllen ISD hosted a one-day jam packed conference for youth attending Nicki Rowe, McHigh, Memorial and the Instructional and Guidance Center on Feb. 4.

The conference lineup included: Jose A. Gonzalez, E.D. McAllen ISD Superintendent, Ricardo Rodriguez, Jr., Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney, Miguel Flores, Director of Education and training, a community law enforcement panel (Eduardo Rivera, Juan Pedraza (Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office), Arturo Longoria (RGVEZ), Motivational speakers Sergio Castillo, Abel Gonzalez and Marc Mero. The key mantra throughout the day was about positive “CHOICES”.

The purpose of the conference was to reach 700 youth from McAllen 78501 zip code, identified by the State as one of over 17 at-risk zip codes in Texas. Our mission for the CYD Program is designed to prevent youth from becoming involved, in a negative way, with the Juvenile Justice System and to foster positive development.

Barriers come in all shapes and sizes. Rio Grande Valley youth are being bombarded with substance abuse, gang violence, teen pregnancy, border violence, child abuse, bullying, stalking suicide, self- hurting, and teen dating violence. Those are just a few of the obstacles they face. The Community Youth Development Program focuses on teaching our children and their parents about leadership, life skills and mentoring opportunities in a coordinated effort to prevent juvenile delinquency and empower our youth and parents.

The victims of crime program has an education and training component that works with schools to educate students, teaching professionals and youth advocates about internet safety, synthetic drugs, sexting, teen dating violence and other youth related topics.

For more information call: 956/424-3276.