Young women hold teen summit in Oakland
9:16 pm Thursday October 11, 2012
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The Alameda County Junior Commission on the Status of Women held its inaugural Teen Summit, “Young Women Leadership,” Sept. 29 at Youth UpRising Center in East Oakland.

More than 40 young women, youths and parents of different ethnicities from Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro and Fremont, participated in the all-day functions advocating professional, personal and self-care empowerment through three sessions: College and Career Preparation; Teen Dating and Abuse; and Stress and Health.

The Teen Summit was envisioned, organized and orchestrated by the Junior Commission, which was founded by the 37-year-old Alameda County Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

CSW Chair, Bonnie Wheatley, said that she and the 17 Commissioners “work with young women [junior commissioners], [to] develop their leadership, become mentors and educate them on how government works.”

The Junior Commission comprises 11 high school students recommended by the CSW and approved by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Potential commissioners must reside in Alameda County, and must complete a written application, interview and commit to a one-year term.

During their term, commissioners address social issues relevant to themselves by creating and executing plans that serve the needs of their junior and high school peers, street youth and anyone who might need mentoring.

Junior Commissioner Chair and Tae Kwon Do black belt Aleyka Rajanala, said that last summer she taught a self-defense and personal safety workshop for girls aged 11 to 18.

Ipsita Dey, a high school senior and junior commissioner from Fremont, expressed her passion for painting and her community.

“I believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Dey said. “It is how you feel inside. I feel strongly about raising subjects like anorexia, bulimia, depression and stress. I believe we are beautiful inside.”

19-year-old Oakland native Crystal Jackson said of the summit, “It was awesome. The Teen Dating and Abuse workshop was helpful. I saw the same situations my mom went through in an abusive relationship.

It gave me pointers in recognizing the warning signs to look out for outside and inside the relationship like the buildup, explosion and honeymoon stages.”

Youth Mentor Rosesharon Oates, a certified massage therapist at the Youth Uprising’s Balance Clinic said, “I am passionate about youth empowerment and for young women especially because I can relate having been through what they have. … I had a mentor who didn’t come into my life until after I was a mother.

She believed in me, helped me realize my true value [and focus on] self-love and self-worth instead of societal or familial values.”

During the event a mid-day entertainment lunch showcased Bay Area-bred rapper, LaLa Mann; Youth UpRising Community Outreach and Events Coordinator and belly dancer Neda Said; spoken word artist Alyssa Evans; and singer ShaTeairah.

Youth UpRising allocated space for the summit, as well as catering and securing the facilitators and performers.

Youth UpRising, a “neighborhood hub” upholds health, education, arts and civic engagement for youth primarily between the ages of 13 and 24.

“What happens with young women is until we learn another way, we perpetuate a lot of the dysfunctions we grew up around. It’s about learning how to make healthy choices, to understand that we have a lot of power within ourselves to make better choices and positively affect our own reality,” Oates added.

For more information on CSW and the Junior Commission on the Status of Women, please refer to: