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TEENS TAKE DOWN BARRIERS TO UNITY.

Byline: DIANA PEYTON Community Columnist

Local teens have returned from the National Conference for Community and Justice Brotherhood-Sisterhood Camp in the San Bernardino Mountains, where they wrestled with their feelings about race, gender and other diversity issues.

Seventeen-year-old Jennifer Ann Ingram left her unconscious habits back at the camp. ``I feel like all of my stereotypes have been disproved. We had to be really honest in our discussions, it's the only way to build community,'' she said.

Through a series of exercises, campers learned what it would be like to be a different race or gender, going through daily routines in a world with prejudice and racism.

In a sexual diversity activity, female participants made harassing statements to their male counterparts. ``We had the guys walk down a row of young women and we did catcalls - like some of us have had to experience in everyday life - to show them how it feels,'' she said.

Jennifer is a member of Youth for Positive Change at Verdugo Hills High School. She would like to see that program offer some of the exercises from the camp.

``At my school, I don't think people blend as much as they should, even in (Youth for Positive Change). I want to bring people together,'' the Sylmar resident said.

The newly inspired teen is working as a student supervisor, tutoring at the Hollywood Education and Literacy Project, where she started out as a volunteer.

Seventeen-year-old Hanssolo Dela Cruz, a senior at El Camino Real High School this year, said he put a wall around himself when he was going through the gender activity. However, he did have feelings about the exercise.

``I felt sad, knowing what women go through. I have a lot of respect for women. The women in my family are pretty strong.''

``Basically I learned that everyone has their own problems to overcome,'' he said.

Others who participated from the Daily News readership area are Reina Melissa Camacito of North Hills, Valley Alternative Magnet; Jessica Everett of North Hollywood, Valley Alternative Magnet; Irene Ly Gov of Los Angeles, Verdugo Hills High School; Maureen Grady of Encino, Cleveland Humanities Magnet; Joseph Nazarian of Los Angeles, Granada Hills High School; Smiley Rodas of Los Angeles, El Camino Real High School; Jenny Staats of Northridge, Cleveland Humanities Magnet; and Adrienne Weiss of Van Nuys, Cleveland Humanities Magnet.

The National Conference for Community and Justice offers workshops and educational programs to volunteers and professionals nationwide.

Special recognition and a $500 scholarship have been given to Junior Miss Northridge Danielle Shin at the California State Junior Miss Finals.

The teen was also given another $500 scholarship as top scholar among 50 contestants.

Danielle attends North Hollywood Highly Gifted Magnet Center and plans a career in pediatric neurosurgery.

Two women's groups in the Valley have given their support to students who have demonstrated academic or leadership potential.

San Fernando High School sophomore Lizette Covarrubias attended the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Conference held at Pepperdine University.

She was sponsored by the Granada Hills Women's Club.

Another organization, the American Association of University Women, sponsored three middle school girls from the Valley who attended Tech Trek, a math and science camp held in San Diego.

The students are Tracey Loaiza of North Hollywood, Margarita Quiroga of Sylmar and Grace Wu of Winnetka.

The California Restaurant Association's Education Foundation has recognized two young women with Pineapple Awards.

Kathleen DuPrez of Sylmar and Cynthia Nelson of North Hills each received a $500 scholarship.

Both will be attending Mission College to study for a career in the food service and hospitality industry.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo: Among those who attended the conference were from left, Jennifer Ingram, camper, Valentino Agundez, assistant co-director, Leila Chakravarty, camper and Paris McCoy, the youth leader.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 3, 2000
Words:627
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