PHARR - Almost 120 youth attended the free 3rd Annual Missions and Obstacles Vary in Everyone (MOVE) Conference held on Wednesday, June 7 at the Boggus Ford Events Center.

The conference was hosted by BCFS Health and Human Services-McAllen in partnership with Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD) in an effort to raise awareness about bullying, suicide prevention and improve individuals’ self-esteem. This year’s conference theme was “10 Reasons to Activate Your Inner Hero.”

During the event, teenagers from across South Texas participated in interactive workshops and skill-building sessions and learned from personal testimonials. Topics discussed included human trafficking, teen pregnancy awareness, bullying, suicide prevention and goal setting. 

According to Marissa Cano, the BCFS Regional Director of South Texas, the conference aimed to inform youth and at-risk young adults about various issues and community resources available to them.

“We want attendees to know that they can speak up and be proud of who they are,” said Cano who organized the event. “Through the conference we hoped to help them become better leaders in their community.”

Besides various activities, the conference included opening remarks from PSJA ISD Deputy Superintendent Dr. Narciso Garcia, sessions on self-empowerment and goal setting led by Extreme Youth Leadership, as well as, motivational speeches by PSJA alumni Natalie Contreras and Claudia Corral, to name a few.

For Natalie Contreras, a recent PSJA Sotomayor Early College High School graduate and teenage mother, sharing her personal story at the conference was a very special experience.

“I am honored to have been invited to speak,” said Contreras who graduated with an Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary from South Texas College two weeks before receiving her high school diploma from PSJA ISD. “It is super beneficial for students to learn this information so that they can be aware and know how to avoid those situations.”

In addition to the partnership with PSJA ISD, some other sponsors for the event included the Boggus Ford Events Center in Pharr, Chic-fil-a, Simply Delicious and the McAllen Rotary Club.

“Thank you to our BCFS staff for their hard work, to PSJA ISD for helping us make this possible, and to everyone who donated food and items,” Cano said.