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Chill Out & Living Above the Influence featured in Morgan Hill Life

To see the original article in Morgan Hill Life, click here

Nonprofit profile: ‘Living Above The Influence’ brings support for local families

Peers unite to help others navigate the influences of life

Published in the Sept. 16-29, 2015 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Marty Cheek

Photo by L&B Photography Participants release balloons in memory of loved ones during 2014’s Living Above The Influence event.

In 2007, Dori Prado’s daughter faced one of the struggles that challenge many teenagers. The 14-year-old girl confessed to Prado she had started smoking marijuana. Prado grew scared about the drug use and started blaming the friends her daughter was hanging out with for influencing her life in this direction. After some soul searching, she decided to give up the judgment and find a way to help the young people in the Morgan Hill community.

Dori told her father, Steve Prado, a one-time heroin addict who had turned his life around and became an alcohol and drug counselor, about the situation. The two decided to put on a workshop at Sobrato High School. Steve went to Dori’s daughter’s classroom to talk to the students… but it didn’t seem to be enough.

Dori then came up with the idea of putting on a friendly barbecue at Morgan Hill’s Community Park and inviting her daughter’s teenage friends to come and discuss how to face together life challenges such as drugs, gangs and prison that many young people encounter.

“We thought we’d have about 15, 20 kids. We had 75 people come that year,” Dori recalled. “It really inspired me to do it again. Right before that first year, my heart did soften about these kids. And I was thinking: what kind of homes do they come from? I know I’m trying to do the best for my daughter, and still I feel she’s out of control, right? What kind of homes are these kids coming from? Do they have the support at home?”

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That park barbecue evolved into a community outreach event that has grown in popularity with hundreds of local young people and families. They gathered every October at either Community or Galvan parks to listen to the stories of young people who have overcome the temptations of drugs, alcohol and gangs, or deal with abuse or depression.

The 9th annual Living Above The Influence event will be held Oct. 10 at the Community and Cultural Center’s plaza.

“Living Above the Influence has really evolved into a community event that gathers resources for the community and gets speakers to give their testimonies that are encouraging and motivating,” Dori said. “It’s real life. These are things that are happening in our community youth and adults. A mother losing her kids to the system because of her own drug addiction. How does she overcome that? We do whatever we can to draw in the community.”

This year, bags of groceries will be given to the first 100 attendees. There will also be entertainment from the Mexican-America Azteca Dancers, rap singers, and poetry readings from young people. To make the day an extra fun celebration, participants can also win raffle prizes such as tickets to Gilroy Gardens Theme Park.

“Someone asked me, ‘Isn’t it like you’re trying to bribe the people to come?’ and I say, ‘Absolutely, I want them to come. I want them to hear these stories,’” Dori said. “And hopefully it touches their heart and helps them to make changes in their life if they’re struggling with those issues. And if they’re not struggling but they know somebody who is, maybe they can help that person out.”

Among the nearly 40 resource agencies that will be available for participants to meet is the nonprofit group Advent Youth Ministries which runs two homes in Morgan Hill for teenage boys and girls to stay at while they heal their lives. At the Living Above The Influence last year, the stories told were so powerful that a boy who was hooked on heroin and prescription pills sought help from Advent Youth Ministries, Dori said.

Living Above The Influence evolved a spin-off program to help young people develop life skills.

After the second year’s event in 2008 grew to 125 participants, Morgan Hill Recreation Coordinator Chiquy Mejia called Dori and asked if she might help bring a similar program to the Teen Center at the Centennial Recreation Center. At first, Dori was hesitant.

But she soon found herself working with the CRC staff to establish the “Chill Out” program where young people got an opportunity to hear the stories of people much like them who faced and overcame struggles with alcohol, drugs and gangs.

“The kids were very, very interested in these types of stories,” Dori said. “They were connected to it and they wanted to hear more. They’d say, ‘Bring somebody else in,’ because a lot of these testimonies are very heart-felt that they’d be crying when they heard about kids being taken away or whatever situation it might be.”

Chill Out now includes training young people on basic life skills such as helping them understand about good financial habits as well as the 41 Developmental Assets, qualities in a community that help young people succeed. It meets every Thursday evening at the Community and Cultural Center.

“This has developed because of Living Above The Influence and it’s something that I’m really proud of,” Dori said.

One thing Dori often points out to people is why the term “Living Above The Influence” was chosen.

“People ask me what that means. Is it talking about drugs and alcohol?” she said. “That’s not what it’s about. It’s about the influences of life. What I like to tell the kids is that if there is something that is affecting your everyday productivity, whatever that may be, you’re living under that influence. And I tell them we need to live above those influences.”

Details

What: Living Above The Influence
When: Noon to 4:30 p.m., Oct. 10
Where: Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center,
17000 Monterey Road
Contact: (408) 390-9012 or email Livingabovetheinfluence07@gmail.com

Put a Stop to Math Misplacement in our Schools–Support SB 359!

Support SB 359

From the Silicon Valley Community Foundation

SIGN THE PETITION

Many students are being unfairly held back because their school district does not rely on objective measures to determine their placement. The result is “math misplacement,” a practice that results in a student being forced to repeat a math course even though objective measures such as test scores indicate they should be advanced to the next course. Studies have shown that math misplacement disproportionately affects students of color.

The most egregious math misplacement issue occurs when a student is held back to repeat Algebra 1 instead of being advanced to Geometry. This can cause students to fall too far behind to complete the courses that colleges expect a math or science major to have taken.

Accurate placement is essential to preparing students for a college track and/or readiness for growing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). At a time when the state and nation face a shortage of qualified STEM workers to meet workforce demands, we must find ways to fix this leak in the STEM pipeline.

Please support Senator Holly Mitchell’s SB 359–The California Mathematics Placement Act of 2015.  SB 359 will ensure that school districts adopt fair, objective and transparent math placement policies so that no student will experience math misplacement.

SIGN THE PETITION

Joshua Rodriguez Memorial Fund

Josh Rodriguez Memorial Fun

Everyone at Youth Alliance would like to give our heartfelt condolences to the family of Joshua Rodriguez, following their tragic loss. This is an unspeakable tragedy and we hope to offer our support in any way possible.

Domino’s Pizza in Hollister will graciously be donating 100% of their proceeds today to the family. Thank you to Domino’s Pizza for their generosity.

Furthermore, Youth Alliance has set up a donation page for the memorial fund below. Your support will go a long way in covering costs for services.

A Little Boy With a Big Heart

From KION:

A little boy with a big heart – that’s how close friends and family describe 11-year-old Josuha Rodriguez.

“When I found out what happened, I just started crying and went straight to the hospital. And I found out he was actually gone. It was sad,” Cody Cordova

Cordova said they were together the night before Josh was killed. That’s a day Cody’s mom, Sheila Cordova, said she will never forget.

“It hurts me to see him because when he asked me he goes ‘Mom, what do I do? I lost my best friend. What am I going to do now?’” Sheila Cordova said.

Police said that just after 4 p.m. on Monday, Joshua was hit by a county bus at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Verdun Avenue. He died at the hospital. The crash was near the skate park where Cody and Joshua spent many hours together.

“I told my son (and) he goes ‘I don’t want to go to the skate park anymore, Mom.’ I said ‘you know what? I don’t think Josh would want that. I think Josh would want you to go,’” Cordova said.

Fundraising events have popped up all over the city. Next Tuesday August 4th, the Hollister Domino’s Pizza is donating all of its proceeds earned that day to the Rodriquez family.

“He was, like, the most lovable person you could ever know. If you were with him, if he was mad or sad, he would still be, like, happy. He would always help people out. We could trust him with anything,” Cody Cordova said.

Hollister police are still investigating how the crash happened. No arrests have been made. Witnesses said the bus driver jumped out to try and help Josh. The driver has not been charged.

Health Squad Day Camp

Health Squad b&w web

WHEN: July 27-31 9:00 AM – 3:30 PM

WHERE: Rancho Park Apartments Neighborhood Center

WHO: Youth aged 10-14

Lunch & Snack Provided Daily

Youth Alliance, in partnership with the American Diabetes Association and Pharmacy at Safeway, will be providing a FREE one-week day camp to promote healthy living by education surrounding diabetes prevention, exercise, and nutrition.

The camp will include healthy activities, including physical fitness and nutrition education. Youth Alliance will also work on various STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) & Multimedia projects.

For Registration Forms & More Information:

Contact Dolores Villalon at (831) 636-2853

Dolores Villalon Receives California Peace Award

At National Night Out Tuesday evening two local residents were honored as peace advocates in San Benito County. Assemblyman Luis Alejo selected Dolores Villalon and Robert Scattini to receive the 2013 California Peace Award along with three other residents or groups from his assembly district.

Residents of the 30th Assembly District were asked to submit names of individuals throughout the area that have gone above and beyond to promote peace. Nominations for the California Peace Award were accepted throughout July for individuals with a record of volunteerism and noteworthy accomplishments in their efforts to stop violence and create a safer community. Recipients must have had, over the past year, significantly contributed to the promotion of peace in the community. Read more

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