BC hosts fifth annual Yes! Conference

Marina Gonzalez, Reporter

The Youth Empowering Success Service (YESS) invited students and adults to their fifth annual conference at Bakersfield College on March 6th.

YES invited over 300 people including middle school kids, high school kids, counselors, social workers and foster parents to help support and inspire kids living in the foster systems in Kern County.

“The purpose of our conference is for youth voice . . . and it’s for all foster youth throughout Kern County,” YES conference organizer Cynthia Ortiz said. “This is just their day to shine and their voice and what needs that they are looking to be met to help them succeed in life.”

The conference had different breakout sessions for the different groups of people who attended. One of the sessions was for the middle school kids that featured the Citizen Scientist Project from CSUB.

“The Citizen Scientist Project is designed to build the capacity of K-12 teachers and students to blend steam computers and civic action to address issues of community concern,” director of the Citizen Scientist Project Brittany Beck said.

Brittany and her partner Jésus Esquibel had the students get into groups and use a process called “The Design Thinking Process,” to help them think about problem in their community, come up with solutions to fix the problem and find ways to address the problem.

“The Design Thinking Process is something that creates like a nice scaffolding for them to be able to have a series of steps they could go through to take them through storytelling and ultimately, make an impact in their community,” Beck said.

After the kids came up with storyboards of their problems, Maddie Jansen from KGET Studios came to the session to share different ways of addressing their solutions.

“We partnered with KGET and Maddie Jansen came and talked to them about public speaking and how to make people care about their message and their idea for their change,” Beck said.

Later that day, the conference had public speaker and musician Jimmy Wayne share his story about how he dealt with being homeless and living in the foster system. He shared how his 6th grade teacher helped him when he was misbehaving at school.

“It started with one teacher,” Jimmy Wayne said. “One school teacher, who identified me with what I needed and she didn’t give up on me.”

After he was abandoned by his parents at 13 years old, he was taken in by an elderly couple and they helped him get enrolled in school, which helped change his life forever. He was very thankful to that couple for helping him because they became his family and he didn’t feel alone.

“Think about what they’re doing for you and let them know how much you appreciate them,” Jimmy Wayne said.