Teens seek selves at seminar
By Cynthia Riddle
Forrest spent the weekend indoors,
to make his mom happy, even though he would much rather have
been at the Ventura County Fair. He was one of 64 teens participating
in a Teen Insight seminar, held at Nordhoff High School, July
31 through Aug. 3.
Most of the teenagers were from the Ojai area, but some came
from as far away as France and Minnesota just to take the course.
Local families provided housing for the half dozen kids who came
from out of town.
Sponsored by the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation, the seminar is
touted as an experience in which teenagers can "grow and
learn about themselves in a supportive and uplifting group environment."
The seminar included one-on-one processing, guided imagery and
big and small group activities. Much of the work seemed designed
to give the teens a chance to discover their inner strengths
and increase their self-confidence.
And according to participants, it seemed to have done just that.
Chloe, 15, felt she gained in self-esteem and found out that
"people don't judge me as hard as I think they do."
Blanca, 18, realized that she "can be more open, more confident,"
knowing that "there are teens with the same problems"
that she had.
Many of the teens were there because their parents had signed
them up. Some were less than enthusiastic about coming. "In
the beginning, I came with an attitude unwilling to participate.
But, it really showed me how I should open my heart to others.
I definitely benefited from Teen Insight," shared Marlee,
14. Cydney, 13, was another one who didn't want to be there.
"I came in with a bad attitude
and my parents forcing me, but in the first hour, I started having
fun." By the time of the graduation ceremony on Sunday night,
she felt she had learned self-respect and gained in self-esteem
by learning to come out of her "comfort zone."
Inspired by the experience of several valley teens, including
Andrew Nelson and Eric Lumiere, who had done other Teen Insight
seminars, the staff of the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation and other
community members worked for months to put on this program. Through
garage sales and direct fund raising, they raised more than $8,000
to help fund students for whom the $295 tuition was too steep.
They were committed to making this experience available for everyone,
regardless of their economic circumstance. Over half of the teens
who attended, did so on scholarships.
Eric Lumiere, 18, has done three of these seminars and assisted
at another seven. He volunteered to assist at this seminar because
"Insight is one of the things I look forward to each year.
I love to be in an environment that allows people to open up
to where they can be vulnerable and purely themselves."
It sounds like an environment we'd all like to live in.
The Youth Foundation plans to sponsor more of these trainings
in the coming months.
The Ojai Valley News
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