Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 21 Sep 2019 12am







    Friday, September 20, 2019-5:55:18P.M.






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Talaabwogh Star hosts youth conference at PIC

SIXTY young people on Saturday participated in a conference hosted by the Talaabwogh Star Association, a faith-based, non-profit organization comprised of Tanapag residents.

Rep. Sheila Babauta, a member of the association’s board, said the conference was held at the Pacific Islands Club and focused on youth issues: life goals, substance abuse, mental health, suicide prevention, and promoting alliance with LGBTQ members.

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The participants and organizers of the 2019 Youth for Youth Conference hosted by the Talaabwogh Star Association pose for a photo on Saturday at PIC.  Contributed photo

“A handful of TStar members attended a youth conference on Guam and were inspired to share what they’ve learned with their peers,” Babauta said.

At PIC, Josh “Zeng Zung” Castro, a native of Tinian and a youth influencer who is active in the local music scene, was the keynote speaker.

“His story and motivating words were inspiring to the youth. He shared great life advice like keeping ‘laser-focused’ on your goals and aspiring to be a better person each day,” Babauta said.

Another guest speaker was Jennifer Furey Maratita, of Pride Marianas Youth. She talked about being an ally to the LGBTQ youth by promoting love and acceptance of who the person is.

“We also learned about helpful and hurtful tips and future Pride Marianas Youth events like ‘Ally Week’ which will be celebrated in the last week of September,” Babauta added.

During the roundtable discussion, Mia Jones of the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Program talked about youth suicide prevention; Becky Mettao of Systems of Care discussed youth mental health; and Jimmy Arriola, president of Brabu Behavioral Health Services, shared information about substance abuse.

“The roundtable learning structure gave the kids an opportunity to have meaningful conversations about sensitive topics like youth suicide, youth mental health, and substance abuse with professionals in our community,” Babauta said. “They had the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the resources available to them. It was important that they feel comfortable opening up and having these discussions with their peers.”

The Talaabwogh Star Association’s mission is to combat the prevalence of substance abuse in Tanapag by providing opportunities to encourage participation in community service.

Its founders are Ignacia and Manny Evangelista, and its president is Malcolm Omar. The board members are Rep. Sheila Babauta, Tiara Evangelista, Kit Cruz, Josephine Kapileo, Menas Tito, Annie Taitano and Maira Rios Arriola, who coordinated the recent conference.